Leading Manufacturer Partners with University to Drive 5G Adoption and Close Talent Gap

A prominent university is using 5G to advance education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), a trend towards automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and processes. The Connected Systems Institute (CSI) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) is working with UScellular Business and manufacturing giant Rockwell Automation to create a lab that teaches students industry skills to be instantly successful in their post-college careers.

These leaders discussed 5G and Education during a panel at the annual Summerfest Tech conference in Milwaukee recently.


“We collaborate with academic institutions—government institutions essentially across the country to create workforce at scale and drive adoption of advanced technologies to support competitiveness of American manufacturing,” said Joseph Zaccaria, Manager-Global Academics, Rockwell Automation. “And now I’m working with the CSI team to continue to expand its capabilities.”

5G in Education

Chris Menden, Director Corporate Partnerships for UWM, says his school offers the usual undergraduate and graduate classes. But in adjusting to today’s Smart Campus, they are training future industry leaders by adopting and teaching with manufacturing lab equipment powered by 5G technology. 

“We partner with industry because we have to be able to supply the talent they need,” Menden said. “Part of our mission is the adoption of advanced manufacturing in the state of Wisconsin.

“And when we look at technologies like 5G that can enable that, you know we're interested. So we have to really pay attention to what's going on in the world, and listen to our industry partners so that we can supply the talent and technology they need to move industry forward,” Menden said.

Closing the Talent Gap with Education

Ross Harmsen agrees. As the Industry 4.0 Business Development Manager for UScellular Business, he says that manufacturers are adopting automation because they can’t find people to fill jobs. “Institutions like UWM and academic efforts at Rockwell are critically important not only to manufacturers but from an educational and foundational perspective for the students coming through the CSI system,” Harmsen said.

Left to right: James Rose (UScellular), Joe Zaccaria, Ross Harmsen, Chris Menden

“And so those kids can step into that lab and get their hands dirty with a digital twin or robotics. And when they get hired by companies like Harley Davidson or Caterpillar, they can step right into that role and become a contributing member. They help our workforce become more educated, more knowledgeable and embrace the revolution or evolution of technology. 

“This investment is huge for manufacturers, and UScellular is enabling technology that students become more familiar with in order to accelerate manufacturing,” Harmsen added.

Creating a workforce is one thing, says Zaccaria, but making it scale to the point where it satisfies the talent gap is key. He says many academic institutes are involved in this educational effort, including some funded by the government.

“But the only way to support that effort is to create a complete ecosystem where not only are the technologies available and applications available, but also the talent. Our gap right now is talent. Working with UScellular, that talent also is going to have the capability of understanding when and where it's best to apply 5G or private cellular networks, and whether that's going to be fiscally viable,” Zaccaria said.

“At CSI, we are grateful that we have a partner in UScellular. We are able to develop the fine use cases and industrial use cases, and then put them into practice because we have a complete enterprise. We proved it can be applied across essentially any industrial base, because we've created an enterprise at the CSI,” he added.

Bottom line, CSI and its partners are teaching students to prepare for careers by tying 5G applications into standard industrial networks and defining the methodologies of how to advance Industry 4.0.

Learn more about UScellular 5G and Private Cellular Networks for Industry 4.0.

Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Connected Systems Institute.