News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kim Schmelz, External Relations & Alumni Development
Phone: 608.822.2379
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: May 6, 2019

Steffel Recognized as 2019 Innovation of the Year Award Recipient

Fennimore -

The Southwest Wisconsin Technical College Foundation recognized 18 employees on Thursday, April 18 at the all-campus in-service on the Southwest Tech campus as nominees for the Innovation of the Year award.  Mike Steffel, Southwest Tech Web Analyst/Programmer was the 2019 recipient of the award.

The Innovation of the Year Award is designed to recognize college staff members who have designed and implemented a significant innovation that meets the criteria of the award, including an increase in the quality of a course, program, office or the institution; contributes to a more efficient process; adds value to the institution while reducing costs; can be replicated in other departments or institutions; is original and creative and was not developed more than five years ago. A committee of campus representatives makes the selection of the award.

Steffel was recognized for his work creating an online event registration system and an online scholarship application saving the Southwest Tech Foundation time and money. Steffel’s work with the event registration system was used for the first time for the Charger Golf Classic in the fall of 2018. It has already been duplicated for the fall and spring Career Fairs. Steffel’s nominator, Gina Udelhofen, stated in relation to the scholarship process, “Mike’s creativity with the application saves so much time and provides efficiency while collaborating with me on what is needed most. He instantly dives into any issue that may come up throughout the application timeline. I’m amazed at how far along the application has come since I started in Fall 2015.”

Dr. Joan Senn, retired Vice President of Academics at Southwest Tech, established the Innovation of the Year endowment through the Southwest Tech Foundation to ensure a monetary award for the Innovation of the Year winner and/or other nominees. According to Senn, “Southwest Tech is fortunate to have fantastic faculty and staff members who consistently look toward the betterment of the College and the success of its students. This award gives them a chance to share their implemented ideas with colleagues and the public and encourages the continuance of innovation at Southwest Tech.”

Holly Clendenen, Executive Director of the Foundation, presented Steffel with his award and stipend and also recognized the work of Stephanie Brown and Matthew Baute for their online Housing Application and Lease Process, a process that has immensely improved efficiencies in the department of Student Housing. Brown and Baute received a cash award for being a finalist along with fellow finalists Lori Needham, Denise Janssen, Jody Millin and Haylee Freymiller for their completed Advisory Committee Process project that created a uniform template for each departments’ advisory board meetings as well as page on the college intranet dedicated to advisory board meetings and members.

To learn more about Southwest Tech, the Southwest Tech Foundation or the Innovation of the Year award, please contact Clendenen at (608) 822-2362 or

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