MADISON — Kohler Co. and UW Madison College of Engineering leaders recently dedicated the new Kohler Innovation Visualization Studio in Wendt Commons.
In addition to donating $1 million to renovate the space, Kohler Co. has committed ongoing involvement from its associates to ensure students gain the innovative mindset and technical knowledge that design-forward companies like Kohler need to compete in today’s technology-driven world.
“Kohler’s sponsorship of this visualization capability reflects our commitment to partner with Wisconsin’s leading engineering school to drive business innovation and talent development for the state,” said Cynthia Bachmann, vice president of engineering and product development for Kohler’s kitchen and bath group. “One of Kohler’s guiding principles is to ‘live on the leading edge of design and technology,’ and we recognize how critical it is for students to develop and use innovative thinking to create new products and technologies that address real world challenges.”
In addition to providing a space to develop new ideas, Bachmann expects the expanded collaboration will directly benefit Kohler’s efforts to attract talented engineers to advance its own product offerings and remain an industry leader in plumbing and power generation.
As the state’s flagship university, UW-Madison has long been important to Kohler’s efforts to recruit highly qualified engineering, technology and business graduates. More than 200 current Kohler associates are UW graduates, and UW-Madison provides a wealth of engineering co-ops and interns, demonstrating the company’s critical need, as a manufacturer, to hire well-trained graduates to design superior products and efficient processes to manufacture them. Kohler leaders also participate in school-industry consortiums that give the company access to new knowledge and resources to grow.
The new space will offer students the chance to use virtual and augmented reality and data modeling to turn their ideas into marketable concepts that companies can commercialize into products that matter to their customers and improve the lives of people around the world.
“With the volume of data being generated by smart and connected systems, it is essential we educate our students about data analytics – from how to build smart wireless sensors to collecting and interpreting data, visualizing the data, making decisions based on the data, and securing the data,” said Ian Robertson, dean of the College of Engineering. “The new Kohler Innovation Visualization Studio provides our faculty with the tools to educate our students in this emerging area and to prepare them for their future careers.”