The state's higher education institutions are partnering to develop a new way to address Wyoming's economic needs.
Wyoming Innovation Network, or WIN, looks to make a more cohesive system between the University of Wyoming and the state's seven community college districts. Higher education leaders and Gov. Mark Gordon came together on Monday to announce the news in a press conference.
"I believe that it is critical to align these programs and resources with the state's needs going forward. I don't think we can afford to do it on a piecemeal basis, as we have in the past," Gordon said.
Gordon said he hopes this will provide more opportunities for students that will also support Wyoming's economic needs.
"We are going to focus our workforce development efforts into high potential areas. These might include areas like advanced manufacturing, digital technology and tourism, and other identified areas that are economically relevant to Wyoming," he said.
UW President Ed Seidel will chair the committee working on the plans.
He said the collaboration will have a direct impact on how all of the higher education institutions will work together.
"[This will] go beyond the mere transfer of credit between our institutions, to have our institutions working collaboratively on joint academic programming in areas where we have high potential and high need," he said. "For example, software engineering, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, tourism, entrepreneurship, and so on, things that will advance the future of the state."
Casper College President Darren Divine said the collaboration will make both the state and higher education more effective.
"While they have different and distinct missions, complementary and synergistic efforts are already underway between the community colleges and university," he said.
This effort will also focus on entrepreneurship to help grow Wyoming's economy from within, Seidel said.
"Our blueprint for the Wyoming Innovation Network includes efforts such as supporting and training entrepreneurs, encouraging new businesses to start, a proactive research agenda that we must grow in order to become an engine for innovation and aimed at tech transfer and commercialization and then the tools to help support that," he said.
Seidel said the group is already working on partnerships and programs. They will report in three months on the initiative's long-term plans.
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