Columbia County is located in southcentral Wisconsin and conveniently located to larger metropolitan areas including Madison, Milwaukee and Rockford, Illinois. Over 57,000 residents make up the county’s 21 towns, 10 villages and 4 cities. The county’s strong manufacturing base provides economic opportunity, quality schools and healthcare, and recreational options. The county is home to the Wisconsin Dells and a large Amish community as well as 11,000 acres of lakes, 16,000 acres of public hunting and wildlife land, 49 miles of trout streams, 27 boat landings and 3,000 campsites.
Columbia County’s partnership with UniverCity Year from 2021-24 is supported by the Alliant Energy Foundation. Columbia County is interested in addressing a range of issues, like affordable housing, childcare, resiliency and sustainability, that the pandemic has exacerbated.
The list below highlights projects that students from a variety of academic disciplines collaborated on with community partners through the UniverCity Year partnership. These deliverables are given to the partners to make progress on their community-identified goals.
- “Designing the Columbia County Economic Development Corporation website.” Department of Computer Science. Independent student research.
- “Evaluating Rio Fire Department infrastructure and future designs.” Civil & Environmental Engineering 578: Senior Capstone Design. Jan Kucher and Mark Oleinik.
- “Developing a design for the Northside Dog Park in Portage.” Civil & Environmental Engineering 578: Senior Capstone Design.
- “Conducting a trade market analysis of Portage Business Park.” Planning & Landscape Architecture. Master’s Professional Project.
- “Attracting and retaining future emergency medical technicians in Rio.” Public Health 780: Evidence-Based Decision-Making. Jess Link Reeve.
- “Focusing on workforce development, attraction and retention initiatives for the City of Portage.” Interdisciplinary Engineering 303: Applied Leadership Competencies in Engineering. Angela Kita and Greg Harrington.
- “Welcoming and integrating Latino community members into the Portage workforce.” Public Affairs 827: Administrative internship.