Campus and Community


Meeting Tech Demands

A $4 million gift from Sentry Insurance has opened the door to a world of opportunity at UWSP. The funds have been used, in part, to create a new major in data analytics at the University, which was first offered in Fall 2016. According to computing and new media technologies department chair Professor Tim Krause, this new field of study could have a profound affect on enrollment numbers. “This investment by Sentry means we are having discussions with students about coming to this university that never would have happened,” he said.

Computers were a childhood interest of Krause. At age 12, he received a TI99-4A, one of the first 16-bit home computers. He later spent a decade working in an assortment of web-related positions, with a last stop as director of web operations for Cargill, Inc. in Minneapolis. 

Krause’s business experience and insight brings a real-world perspective to the classroom. He understands how students are guided to become the professionals that employers want. What they want at present, he says, is expertise in data analytics.

“Data analytics is all about figuring out what we do with all the data that we’re awash in,” said Krause. “Data analysis is a challenging but rewarding field. Our program is unique because we anticipate preparing students to be data analysts and business analysts. Most programs do one at the exclusion of the other."

The Sentry Insurance investment addresses the urgent demand for people trained in this field. In addition to establishing the data analytics major, the gift also funds two new faculty positions: the Sentry Insurance Endowed Chair in Computational Analytics, in computing and new media technologies, and the Sentry Insurance Endowed Chair in Business Analytics in the School of Business and Economics, College of Professional Studies. 

UW-Stevens Point is at the forefront of preparing students at all levels of educational background and knowledge for careers in computer technology. Data analytics joins previously established departmental majors computer information systems and web and digital media development, soon to be renamed human technology interaction.

“Our students have helped define what HTML is by participating in the organization that manages and defines the language of the World Wide Web," said Krause. "Our incoming students are writing a scripting language that our alumni are helping to define. That’s, quite frankly, jaw-dropping.”

Krause added that participation in a Wisconsin Fast Forward grant, led by the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board,  has allowed UWSP to provide retraining for graduates of two and four-year institutions. Partnering with Delta Dental, Skyward and Sentry, the University can reach out to folks with any degree and help them learn to become professional developers.

"With four years of time, we can focus on additional skills that take time to mature: critical thinking, understanding how to work as a team, problem solving, communicating technical concepts to non-technical audiences," noted Krause. "These skills turn job opportunities into careers.”

For a majority of UWSP students, careers in computing and new media technologies have included work as programmers, database administrators, business analysts, quality assurance testers, user experience designers, security analysts and junior project managers. While many department graduates stay local,  some move out of the area to make a name for themselves, as well as for UWSP.

"We have alumni working across the United States for companies like Microsoft and around the world," noted Krause. "Our alumni network, which we manage on LinkedIn, is one of the core strengths and reasons to study here.”

Krause believes that a UWSP education is about more than succeeding in business. It also is about succeeding on a personal level. It is about being using skills to improve communities, steward the environment and enrich lives.

“We only have so much time on this planet and I don’t think we always give of ourselves as much as we might," said Krause. "As self-ascribed [tech] nerds, there’s so much we can offer our fellow human beings."



Wisconsin Waterways App

The Wisconsin Waterways App shows depth contours and map information for 13 central Wisconsin water bodies, including the Stevens Point flowage of the Wisconsin River. The maps for the app were designed by UW-Stevens Point computing and new media technologies students.

"This community service project let students apply their skills and make using our beautiful natural resources safer, more interesting and more fun," said department chair Professor Tim Krause. "Increased profits and solid stewardship do go hand-in-hand in creating a better world.”

In addition to water depth contour information under normal water-level conditions, the app also includes the locations of old log pilings, points of interest such as nearby parks and boat launch locations, and municipal boundaries.

Available for Android devices (search “Wisconsin Waterways” at Google Play), the app was originally generated with information from a bathymetric survey and mapping project conducted by the UW-Stevens Point Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center. A team of faculty and students led by education specialist Christine Koeller collected more than 120,000 data points over 2,800 acres of the Stevens Point Flowage.

Lake Wausau is another key body of water included in the app. Information from the lake was collected and mapped in 2012 as part of a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources lake planning grant.