Budget cuts put major and minor at risk

Sustainable and Renewable Energy Systems students work to raise money to keep program

Bonnie Allen, General Reporter

Due to budget constraints, the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Systems major and minor may be suspended from the College of Engineering Mathematics and Science.

Since the program was added four years ago, the major currently has 50 students pursuing the SRES major and 20 students involved in the minor.

“The dean had to make the final call. We’re going to continue to have budget cuts, so do we cut a new major or do we nip away at the other majors? And so she made the decision that we need to be cutting the new one before we grow too big so we can maintain the ones we already have,” SRES Program Coordinator Timothy Zauche said.

In attempt to retain the major and minor, an email was sent out to SRES students from the College of EMS and SRES faculty setting a goal to raise $100,000 by May 1 in order to continue the program. As of Feb. 29, the fundraising campaign has already pledged $27,000 in commitments, and students currently enrolled in the SRES major will stsill be offered the courses needed in order to graduate with the major.

“We have been reaching out to our industrial advisory board as well as a number of our community partners. Ultimately we have had 140 students graduate with the minor. If each of those students were to donate 40 or 50 dollars a month, we would be well over half of what we need,” Zauche said.

Additionally, the Wisconsin Association of Energy Engineers student chapter, which is predominantly made up of SRES students, has redirected their focus since the announcement of the possible suspension.

“For this year, we were trying to come up with projects we could work on like helping the campus or just learning more about sustainability within ourselves, but now obviously since the major is thinking about getting cut, we have a goal,” senior SRES major and WAEE treasurer Katie Chorley said. “The dean of EMS told us we have to raise $100,000 in order to stay a major. So we refocused the group now to help raise the money for that so we can stay a major.”

Although the program is facing a possible suspension, Chorley

believes the major has well prepared her for the future.

“I learn so many different things from sustainability to renewable energy to business on the business track. And it has helped me so much. I have done so many on-campus projects and so much community work,” Chorley said.  “I had a co-op with a top company and I have an internship this summer, so it has given me a ton of opportunities to build my resume, skills, and talents.”

Members from the industrial advisory board have also been supporting the SRES major with the hopes of continuing the opportunity for University of Wisconsin-Platteville students interested in the field.

“Colleges will need to offer programs like SRES if they want to claim they’re preparing a workforce to meet market demands in clean energy. Without SRES, employers in the clean energy industry will recruit from other schools for potential employees,” advisory board member Douglas Ahl said. “UW-Platteville’s College of EMS has an excellent reputation for value and hands-on engineering education including undergraduate research opportunities.”

According to a later email sent out from Zauche to SRES students, students who are currently enrolled as a SRES minor or major will still be able to take the courses needed for them to graduate. SRES is  currently in the process of securing funding for  one full-time faculty position.

Zauche also wrote in the email that all final decisions to keep the major and/or minor will be made on May 1.

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