“We made a difference”

MILWAUKEE – A popular local university weather program is coming to an end this spring.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) says the decision to end its innovative weather program comes from rising costs and decreased funding. The last day of the operation is April 30, 2024.

“It’s been very disappointing to see this wonderful program in the state it is in now. After myself and several others, Paul Roper and Mike Westendorf, have put in an incredible amount of hard work for so long,” Weather Program Director of Operations Alex Bukvich explains.

He participated in the program as a student and now works as director of operations. He says he loves helping students and providing them with opportunities.

The innovative weather program was founded in 2007 by Professor Paul Roper. He wanted to provide students with real-world work experience in the field of atmospheric science.

“You have given me so much, and we have been able to support so many students, and it is disappointing that we can no longer continue to do that,” Bukvich said.

A UWM spokesperson provided the following statement about the program’s discontinuation:

“UWM is saddened that Innovative Weather, an experiential learning and training program in atmospheric science, has closed. Innovative Weather is funded through a combination of grants, service subscriptions, and support from donors and UWM. Its budget is expected to grow to $220,000 in The next two years due to increasing costs and decreased funding led to the very difficult decision to discontinue the program.

For the past 17 years, Innovative Weather has provided accurate information and forecasts to joint partners while helping to train atmospheric science students at UWM. More than 100 graduates of the program have gone on to careers as meteorologists and professionals in other high-impact fields across the country. UWM is grateful to everyone who helped launch their careers by devoting their time, talents and resources to innovative weather.

Bukvich says the decision is devastating because of the opportunities available to students.

“We offer paid forecasting internships to our students, so we give these students the opportunity to earn money and work as meteorologists, which means we are creating great success for our graduates.”

Alumni like our Chief Meteorologist, Brian Neznansky. The program didn’t exist when he was studying at UW, but he knows its importance.

“Having real-world experience in any field of work is very important. As for weather, it is very difficult to get,” Niznansky explained.

Students working at Innovative Weather forecast for many major companies, city administrations and festivals. Partnerships include We Energies, the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sanitation District, which provides a “real world” feel to undergraduate and graduate students.

“These students benefit greatly from this program. In having them benefit, I think it’s also beneficial for our community to have a workforce that’s ready to hit the ground running,” Niznansky said.

Even though the program is over, the memories and success stories will always be fresh, Bukvich says.

“To leave a legacy of innovative weather. To say we made an impact, even if we’re not here now. We made a difference.”

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