UWM announces weather program ending in April: 'We have made a difference'

The Innovative Weather program was started in 2007. It has provided a paid internship opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students for 17 years.
Posted at 9:41 AM, Sep 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-18 10:41:01-04

MILWAUKEE — A well-known local university weather program is coming to an end this spring.

The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee says the decision to end the Innovative Weather program comes from rising costs and a decline in funding. The last day of operation is April 30, 2024.

"It was very frustrating to see this fantastic program in the position it is in now. After many others and I, Paul Roebber, Mike Westendorf have done an unbelievable amount of work fighting uphill for so long," Director of Operations for the weather program Alex Bukvich explains.

He went through the program as a student and now serves as the Director of Operations. He says he has a love for helping students and providing them with opportunities.

The Innovative Weather program was founded back in 2007 by Professor Paul Roebber. He wanted to provide students with a real-life job experience in the field of Atmospheric Science.

"It’s given me so much, and we have been able to give to so many students, it's disappointing that we can no longer continue to do so,” Bukvich said.

A spokesperson with UWM provided the following statement about the program coming to a halt:

"UWM is saddened that Innovative Weather, an atmospheric sciences experiential learning and internship program, is closing. Innovative Weather has been funded through a combination of grants, service subscriptions, and support from donors and UWM. Its budget was estimated to grow to $220,000 in the next two years due to increasing costs, and declining funding precipitated the very difficult decision to discontinue the program.

For the past 17 years, Innovative Weather has delivered accurate information and forecasting to subscribing partners while helping train UWM’s atmospheric sciences students. More than 100 of the program’s alumni 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 given to the students.

"We are a paid forecasting internship for our students, so we give these students the opportunity to get paid and work as meteorologists so that means we place our alumni extremely successfully."

Alumni like our former Meteorologist, Brian Niznansky. The program wasn't around when he was attending UWM, but he knows the importance.

"To get real-life experience in any job field is super important. For weather, it's just really hard to come by," Niznansky explained.

Students working at Innovative Weather, forecast for many big companies, city departments, and festivals. The partnerships include We Energies, the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, which provides that “real-world” feel for undergraduate and graduate students.

“These students benefit greatly from this program. And by them benefiting, I believe it also benefits our community to have a workforce that is ready to hit the ground running,” Niznansky said.

Bukvich says although the program is ending- the memories and success stories will always remain alive.

“To leave a legacy of Innovative Weather. To say that we made an impact, even if we don't exist now. We have made a difference."