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Former Foxconn exec Alan Yeung hired by UW-Madison's College of Engineering

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Corrinne Hess

Mar 31, 2022

Alan Yeung has joined UW-Madison's College of Engineering as an entrepreneurship consultant. He'll be helping the college "commercialize research, and connect with industry and entrepreneurs"...

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has hired one of Foxconn's most prominent former Wisconsin executives.

Part of the deal former Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn executives struck with Wisconsin included a promise to give UW-Madison $100 million. But that money never showed up. And the Foxconn project has only faltered since it was announced.

Now Alan Yeung has joined UW-Madison's College of Engineering as an entrepreneurship consultant. He'll be helping the college "commercialize research, and connect with industry and entrepreneurs," said Renee Meiller, a spokeswoman for the College of Engineering.

"We are hoping to leverage his strong passion for the College of Engineering and his expertise and connections as an entrepreneur," Meiller said.

Yeung's job is called a a fixed-term terminal appointment, which can be extended, but not past two years.

Yeung was living in Hong Kong before coming to Wisconsin to attend UW-Madison. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering from the school in 1984.

In August 2018, Foxconn pledged to give UW-Madison $100 million to support engineering and innovation research.

At the time, the gift was to include funding for a new research building for the College of Engineering, the creation of the Foxconn Institute for Research in Science and Technology (FIRST), and support for further collaboration in research, education, and scientific outreach.

Foxconn paid for a $700,000 sponsored research project in the College of Engineering - spending less than 1 percent of what was promised.

Last year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported UW-Madison is not expecting Foxconn to fulfill the rest of its pledge.

Ian Robertson, the Grainger Dean of the College of Engineering, said hiring Yeung gave him no pause. "Commercializing our research is an important component of the College of Engineering, and Alan has expertise we believe is valuable so we can learn best practices," Robertson said.

State Rep. Gordon Hintz, who serves on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board, responded to Yeung's hiring on social media.

Yeung was a key player in the Foxconn project, working behind the scenes on the Wisconsin deal. He details that work in his new book, Flying Eagle, the nickname for the Wisconsin project.

According to Yeung's website, he joined Foxconn Technology Group in 2007 as the chief financial officer of Channel Business Group. Yeung left the company, but rejoined in 2017 to lead project Flying Eagle.

The village of Mount Pleasant and Wisconsin gained national attention in 2017 when the Taiwanese manufacturing company announced a deal with the state of Wisconsin to build a massive high-tech manufacturing plant and employ thousands in the village in exchange for, at the time, $3 billion in state tax credits.

In his book, Yeung describes the events of 2017 - meeting with former Walker and former President Donald Trump who called Foxconn the eighth wonder of the world.

"From the White House East Room event in July to the announcement in Racine it had taken us less than five months," Yeung wrote. "Our foreign direct investment project had moved at lightning speed."

Over the years, those plans have been drastically downsized and promises from Foxconn have gone unfulfilled. Still, village officials stand by the company.

One promise Foxconn has kept is its pledge to the University of Illinois.

In 2019, the company announced it would contribute $50 million over 10 years to develop a $100 million smart technology research center headquartered on the Urbana-Champaign campus.

A spokeswoman from the school said, "Foxconn Interconnect Technology Limited is up to date with all of its payments to the university."

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