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Microsoft gives UWM $1.2 million for Connected Systems Institute at UWM

Microsoft has given $1.2 million to the UWM Foundation to support the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Connected Systems Institute.

The gift will be used to educate and expand Wisconsin’s talent pipeline for Industry 4.0 manufacturing, which allows small and medium manufacturers to integrate new technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, into their production process. This is the second major gift from Microsoft to CSI; the company gave $1.5 million in 2019.

“We at UWM are so grateful to Microsoft for their continued support of the Connected Systems Institute,” UWM Chancellor Mark Mone said. “This gift allows us to expand innovation among Wisconsin manufacturers through the adoption of Industry 4.0 and AI technologies and to meet the ever-increasing demand for a highly skilled workforce. Together, we are advancing the economic growth of our region.”

UWM launched the Connected Systems Institute in 2017, making the institute the first of its kind in Wisconsin. CSI provides opportunities for industry partners to work together with faculty and student researchers from UWM and other collaborating universities to develop advanced manufacturing processes. In addition to Microsoft, industry partners include Rockwell Automation, We Energies, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Revere Electric, Fortinet, Brady, Heartland Business Systems and UScellular.

CSI features a state-of-the-art lab with a fully functional manufacturing cell that utilizes advanced systems, such as AI, robotics and operational-technology cybersecurity. In addition, the institute provides several educational tracks for undergraduates, graduate students, professionals and executives.

The institute was developed with input from key industry partners, including Microsoft Chief AI Officer Balamurugan Balakreshnan. “CSI is playing a pivotal role in pushing technological advances in the manufacturing sector,” Balakreshnan said. “I recently participated in several AI workshops at CSI. These provide invaluable opportunities to understand AI and its potential to revolutionize the manufacturing sector. For example, CSI recently completed research on an AI vision system and deployed the CSI Factory GPT, an AI chatbot that assists manufacturers on the shop floor in accessing information quickly, saving them time and increasing efficiency as well as safety. CSI, with the help of Microsoft, has moved rapidly into the AI space with the hopes of providing tangible technology solutions to manufacturers.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella graduated from UWM’s College of Engineering & Applied Science in 1990 with a master’s degree in computer science.