Thank You, 72

The U.S. exports 1.7 billion bushels of soybeans each year to countries all over the world, and about one-third of those bushels make their journey through the Panama Canal. But without Edward Schildhauer 1897, there would be no Panama Canal. And without Wisconsin’s Calumet County — whose population roughly equals the current enrollment at UW–Madison — there would be no Edward Schildhauer.

Growing up in New Holstein, Wisconsin, Schildhauer learned early on that he had an engineer’s mind, so he moved to Madison and enrolled at the UW. After graduating from the College of Engineering, he worked for Chicago’s Commonwealth Edison until he resigned to join an exciting new project: the Panama Canal. Schildhauer designed several of its most important features, including the locks that enable ships to climb over the Panamanian isthmus, which links the Atlantic and Pacific; and the locomotives that pull vessels across.

This year’s Project 72 campaign took a simple approach: to say thank you to Wisconsin for its continued support of the university.

This is just one of 72 stories that WFAA published this year to show how influential the state of Wisconsin’s support of UW–Madison is.

In 2016, WFAA launched the first iteration of Project 72, which used billboards, online stories, and a book to highlight UW–Madison’s partnerships with and connections to each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. But for year two, Project 72 changed its focus.

Certain aspects of 2016’s Project 72 campaign were carried over: billboards went up in every county that had billboard space (64 of 72), and WFAA’s team of coordinators, writers, and editors researched and wrote another set of original stories. This year saw a broadened scope of subjects that includes archival subjects, living alumni, and businesses.

WFAA also asked itself a question: what would you do if someone gave you more than $400 million every year? The answer is simple: you’d say thank you! In the 2017 state budget, the state of Wisconsin set aside $436 million for UW–Madison. Not only does the state government support the university through funding, but Wisconsinites from Hayward to Kenosha also support the UW by sending some of their brightest minds to study here.

This year’s Project 72 campaign — Thank You, 72 — was all about gratitude. For the past 169 years, the state’s 72 counties have populated campus with thinkers, athletes, builders, scientists, leaders, reformers, writers, scholars, engineers, and heroes. It is the people of Wisconsin and the accomplishments of these remarkable individuals that have given the university its reputation as a world-class institution. For that, WFAA offers the Badger State’s citizens its deepest thanks.

Read more Project 72 stories at