WUWM: Innovation Reporting

It seems like every day there are breakthroughs in science, medicine and technology. But what do those advancements mean for you? WUWM’s Innovation Reporter Chuck Quirmbach will answer your questions, and make the difficult easier to grasp.

Submit your questions to Chuck below.

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Chuck Quirmbach

A city of Milwaukee panel has declared an order to tear down the former Northridge Mall is "reasonable." But the Chinese firm that owns the huge property on the northwest side says its fight to keep the buildings intact may not be over.

The Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services issued what's called a raze order against the mall three months ago, saying the long-closed complex is dilapidated, frequently vandalized, and meets a raze order standard of needing repairs that exceed half the assessed value of the property.

NASA History Office and the NASA JSC Media Services Center / NASA

The 50th anniversary of the first astronaut moon landing comes as NASA is talking of another trip to the moon within five years, and of taking people to Mars by the mid-2030s.

Astronomers, engineers, and human health experts across Wisconsin have been tracking the discussion. And some are working on projects potentially tied to more space travel.

Chuck Quirmbach

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has signed a bill that could speed the introduction of faster wireless service known as 5G to the state. The industry promises that 5G would mean things like better cell phone connections and faster movie downloads.

But there are concerns that 5G, which stands for fifth generation, could bring health problems like cancer to local communities. 

For WUWM's Beats Me series, we received a question about when the Milwaukee area will get 5G. 

arcyto / stock.adobe.com

Doctors at the Medical College of Wisconsin are reporting progress in treating two kinds of cancer affecting women — ovarian and cervical cancers. But those researchers say many challenges remain.  

Chuck Quirmbach

Boats without on-board pilots or drivers are starting to make their way onto the world's waters. You won't find so-called autonomous boats on the Great Lakes just yet. But that could change over the next decade, at least for universities doing research. 

During a recent demonstration in Milwaukee's harbor near Discovery World , a diesel-powered yellow boat about 18 feet long went back and forth on the water. 

Chuck Quirmbach

Deadly accidents and major traffic delays have troubled the Interstate 94 reconstruction project south of Milwaukee. At least one trucker blames his fellow drivers. But others want a closer look at the design of the freeway project.

The project is adding a fourth lane each way, partly for the Foxconn factory promised to be built in Racine County. But some motorists who travel that stretch of I-94 say they're concerned about their safety.

Chuck Quirmbach

The $286 million project to get Lake Michigan drinking water to Waukesha and send treated wastewater back to the lake needs people to build the infrastructure. 

About 50 potential contractors attended a briefing in Waukesha Tuesday. They discussed some of the engineering and construction challenges ahead.

Chuck Quirmbach

Microsoft has announced a gift worth $1.5 million to the Connected Systems Institute, which is based at UW-Milwaukee. The institute is a statewide collaboration among academia, industry and state government that helps industry optimize data and improve manufacturing automation.

Microsoft President Brad Smith announced the details of the donation at a news briefing Monday afternoon at UWM. He said the gift includes $1.25 million in cash, $250,000 in cloud computing credits and $80,000 in computer hardware.

Chuck Quirmbach

Four low-income areas of Milwaukee continue to be designated "Promise Zones," where city officials say they're making special efforts to create jobs, improve education and reduce crime. On Saturday, a bicycle tour through one of the zones on Milwaukee's north side offered both a look at the promise of the neighborhoods and some of the challenges.

Chuck Quirmbach

If you've noticed your health care costs going up, you're not alone. Even some members of the medical community say they're concerned about rising costs, and hope more data will lead to less expensive options, or at least smaller price hikes. 

The most basic medical moment — when patient and health care provider are discussing solutions — is too often under stress, says Linda Syth. She's of the Wisconsin Medical Society and was at a health care conference in Green Bay Wednesday.

kwanchaift / stock.adobe.com

Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin says the federal government should be spending more money on scientific and biomedical research.  

So, recently, she helped introduce a bill called the "American Cures Act". It would annually increase spending by at least 5% at the: National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Defense Health Program, and Veterans Medical and Prosthetics Research Program. 

Chuck Quirmbach

3D printers are becoming so advanced and widespread that the auto industry uses them to make rare car parts. Some construction firms use them to pour concrete.

Also, more schools are teaching teenage students how to use smaller versions of the printers — and teachers in some school districts are learning how to teach even young children how to use them.

Take, for example, the Port Washington-Saukville School District. This week, the district played host to a summer instruction session for teachers to learn about new technology. 

Chuck Quirmbach

The state Legislature's budget committee has recommended shrinking the size of a proposed expansion of higher-speed internet service across Wisconsin. The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee also wants to block additional money to help a consumer group challenge residential rate cases brought by state utilities.

Both items were considered Thursday night, as part of  the state budget proposal for the Public Service Commission (PSC). 

Chuck Quirmbach

Updated on June 7

Thursday night, the state Legislature's budget committee approved $35 million for expanding Amtrak Hiawatha train service between Milwaukee and Chicago. But the panel nixed spending an additional $10 million for a second daily Empire Builder passenger train across Wisconsin to the Twin Cities.

Chuck Quirmbach

Technology leaders in the upper Midwest say they have common problems trying to compete financially with tech hubs like Silicon Valley. But the Midwest advocates also say things are getting better in the region.

Milwaukee-area entrepreneurs often talk about local investors being cautious and perhaps conservative.  But Julia Kanouse, of the Illinois Tech Association, says it's actually the Midwest region that doesn't do as well as Silicon Valley in California and Austin, Texas. 

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