Developing the internet of things
Microsoft donates $1.5 million to UWM for tech advancements

By Brianna Stubler

June 26, 2019

MILWAUKEE — Microsoft has pledged more than $1.5 million to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in collaborative efforts between students, businesses and the government. The corporation’s president Brad Smith announced his pledge to UWM’s Connected Systems Institute during his keynote speech to the IoT Talent Consortium annual meeting.

The institute is part of a growing multidisciplinary field working on developing new technologies for the IoT, or internet of things: a system of interrelated devices that transfer data over a network without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

UWM College of Engineering & Applied Sciences Professor Adel Nasiri said he is thrilled to see the increased interest and work to provide the fundamental education for this field, which has a range of applications.

“This is a very quickly growing and evolving field and with more and more products and concepts out there, companies can adapt and learn,” Nasiri said. “That is part of our vision, to help companies put the systems together to overall benefit them and their partners.”

The other part is working with students to prepare them for careers at the cutting edge of technology.

By investing in the Connected Systems Institute, the university and its partners have recognized the value in new IoT technology and are contributing to its expansion. About a year and a half ago, UWM started seriously working on their IoT and connected systems offerings and began crafting courses. This donation and five-year partnership with Microsoft will bring more courses as well as bolster the new Connected Systems Institute.

While the institute is located in Milwaukee, students at extension campuses, as in West Bend and Waukesha, stand to gain from the extended course offerings and will have opportunities to work and learn from the central Milwaukee location. Nasiri said new classes are not narrowly designed for students in a handful of tech-based majors, but can be included in curriculum for business, engineering and other paths.

“This is a major change in what students were doing as the concept of connectivity and systems is taking over all fields and disciplines,” he said. “We are giving students a broader view of what the systems look like, including using real-time data to make decisions, because it is going to happen in every single field, in everything around us.”

Microsoft’s donation includes $1.25 million in cash, $250,000 in Azure cloud credits and $80,000 in Surface Hub hardware. Other players were instrumental in creating a united force for technological advancement, including Rockwell Automation, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., We Energies and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which renovated space on campus for the institute.

Together, the students, companies and governmental agencies create an ecosystem of technology providers and consumers to learn from one another and challenge future augmentation.