Summit history: Polytechnic gathering began 10 years ago at UW-Stout

Eight states were represented at first event
​Jerry Poling | January 28, 2019

On its 10th anniversary, the Polytechnic Summit has come back to its roots at UW-Stout.

The university helped start and hosted the first summit July 16-17, 2009. Attendees came to west-central Wisconsin from Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan and New York.

UW-Stout staff coordinated the planning, with assistance from Arizona State University Polytechnic; California Polytechnic State University; the Rochester Institute of Technology; and Virginia Tech.

Students work in an engineering lab at UW-Stout.“I was amazed at the support we found in calling this group together,” said Charles W. Sorensen, then the chancellor at UW-Stout.

Sorensen opened the forum by calling for polytechnic universities to become the national model for collaborative research. “We are different. Polytechnic universities should lead higher education change.”

The summit was organized to bring together representatives from polytechnics nationwide to discuss common interests, problems and issues. “We can share best practices, address future trends and build partnerships,” Sorensen said.

Opportunities to work together, participants said, were  faculty-student exchanges, collaborative research projects, assessment, virtual collaboration, a polytechnic journal and leadership development.

Summit keynote speaker Gerald Jakubowski, former president of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and then provost and vice president of academic affairs of California Maritime Academy, recommended that the new role for polytechnic universities should be to cultivate innovation.

Summit logo from 2018 in Peru“The traditional view of higher education is linear,” Jakubowski said. He described it as a sliding scale between research and teaching, with the private sector expected to apply basic research into marketable products — a process he defined as innovation.

“This should be the role of polytechnics,” Jakubowski said. “Innovation can be taught to our undergraduates. This should not be left to the private sector exclusively.”

He suggested that students at polytechnic universities should be involved in innovation as early as their freshman year and called for polytechnics to put the word “innovation” in their mission statements.

After the success of the first summit, UW-Stout also hosted the second summit July 15-16, 2010. The event has been hosted by four other universities over the years.

Polytechnic Summit History

2009 — University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, Wis.

2010 — University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, Wis.

2011 — Southern Polytechnic State University, Marietta, Ga.

2012 — Southern Polytechnic State University, Marietta, Ga.

2013 — Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, Mass.

2014 — Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, Mass.

2015 — No summit

2016 — No summit

2017 — Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

2018 — University of Engineering and Technology, Lima, Peru



Students work in an engineering lab at UW-Stout.

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