Chin Wu saves lives.
You may think this claim is exaggerated. He is, after all, a UW–Madison professor of civil and environmental engineering whose specialty is fluid dynamics. His publications cover topics such as long-term trends in variability of ice cover and diurnal thermal dynamic processes in small and shallow lakes.
But Wu is a life saver, and if you don’t believe it, ask Erica Peterson of Wisconsin’s Friends of the Apostle Islands or Tom Mlada, the mayor of Port Washington.
The Great Lakes communities they work with have seen swimmers and kayakers pulled away from shore and drowned by dangerous waves and rip currents. They know the benefits that come from Wu’s efforts to create early-warning systems about water conditions on the Great Lakes.
“Dr. Wu and [his] graduate student Josh Anderson developed an amazing system and continue to provide much-needed technical support,” says Peterson.
Like the currents under Lake Michigan, the work of UW–Madison and its faculty, staff, and students has a tremendous effect on Wisconsin, though it often goes unnoticed. That can lead to a poor relationship between the state and its flagship university.
Like the currents under Lake Michigan, the work of UW–Madison and its faculty, staff, and students has a tremendous effect on Wisconsin, though it often goes unnoticed.
WFAA wants Wisconsin to see that the UW isn’t just a Madison concern. It’s not an ivory tower. Its faculty and students look outward, not inward, and their work reaches every county in the state. And every county in the state has an effect on UW–Madison.
That was the impetus behind Project 72 — a WFAA effort to showcase the UW’s connections to all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. In early 2016, WFAA staffers gathered those stories, and then they published them on a website (boundlesstogether.org), promoted them on billboards across Wisconsin, and printed them in a book presented to community leaders around Wisconsin and in the state capitol.
The billboards — one for each county — went up in September, attracting attention across Wisconsin. Print and online media in 26 counties ran articles highlighting the people and programs that connect their communities to UW–Madison. Even the Wall Street Journal picked up the story — a September article on the funding of state universities around America noted Project 72 as a creative effort to improve political climate.
“UW–Madison touches people from the shores of Lake Superior to the Illinois border, from downtown Milwaukee to the forests north of Hayward,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank.
The UW’s faculty, staff, and students help to support businesses, train leaders, solve problems — and save lives. And thanks to Project 72, Wisconsin’s citizens will see the value of their university more clearly.