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Meet a Badger: Ed Shimon ’90

What is your hometown?
Reedsville, WI

Which years did you attend UW?
Aug 1986 to Dec 1990

What was your major and what degree did you obtain?
B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences (Meteorology).

Describe a fond memory of your time at the UW.
There were so many awesome memories of my time at UW. Being in the Naval ROTC encompassed a larger portion of my college experiences, along with playing my baritone saxophone in the UW Concert Band. Of course, the Memorial Union and lakefront nights were always a great hangout with friends. Halloweens on State Street back in the day were crazy nights. One memory that stands out was playing intramural basketball my freshman year on our Naval ROTC team. We had a solid team, with one of the players being a former standout from Milwaukee Washington High School. We went on to win our UW Intramural league as well as a national Navy ROTC tournament held at Notre Dame in South Bend Indiana.

How would you describe your education at UW?
I started out at UW with expectations to major in Electrical Engineering. I realized during my sophomore year that I was not as enthralled with dismantling and creating electronic devices as I thought I might be. I walked around campus with my transcript to see where I might fit in. When I eventually went into the Atmospheric Sciences building, I saw that my current course list fit pretty well with their major requirements. I took the basic Meteorology class and loved it. The rest is history. Little did I realize at the time, but UW has one of the premier Atmospheric Science programs in the nation! Overall, I would describe my education as excellent, encompassing a thorough combination of major components with interesting and challenging breadth requirements. Being a Naval ROTC scholarship student, I was required to take a Naval Science course every semester, which helped give me an even wider foundation.

Describe your current job and career path.
My career path did not immediately involve meteorology. Right after UW graduation/commencement in Dec 1990, I was commissioned as an Officer in the U.S. Navy. I spent 3 years in the Navy stationed in Newport, Rhode Island. My primary job was as a Communications Officer, but the Captain would pull me aside periodically to ask about the weather forecast. Let me tell you those forecasts were not my best, especially with no preparation and just the clouds in the sky to guide me! During my Naval service I spent quite a bit of time in the Red Sea during the First Gulf War. After I completed my obligated service, I worked for 1.5 years as a meteorologist for Weather Central Inc back in Madison before I was hired on with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Madison in November of 1994. During my 25 year career with the NWS, I have also worked in Duluth, MN (1996-2005), and now Lincoln, IL (2005-present). My current job is as a Senior Meteorologist with the NWS. I am in charge of providing timely and accurate weather warnings and forecast information for 35 counties in Central Illinois. Forecasting the weather is a challenge every day, not just when winter or summer storms are expected. The main focus recently has been providing detailed, up-to-the-minute Decision Support Services to our core partners in Emergency Management and Safety roles. That includes college football games, state fairs, large concert venues, and just about anything where large crowds could be vulnerable to hazardous weather. One thing I especially love about my job is going out to public venues to educate people on whatever topics the city/county/state organizations request. Training severe storm spotters is one of the main ways we get out of the office to see our customers face-to-face. I can honestly say I love my job, and I am so glad I was able to apply my college degree as a lifelong career.

What would you tell prospective students considering UW?
I would tell them they have to see the campus when it is bustling with student life. Get there when school is in session if you can. I came from a small town of 1,000 people in east-central Wisconsin, so the massive size of UW really intimidated me initially when I came for SOAR the summer before my freshman year. I got past that once freshman year started and life as a Badger student took off. The campus setting and vibe are second to none. The state Capital at the end of State Street, the Memorial Union right on the lake, Bascom Hill overlooking it all... the campus has so much to enjoy, it is breathtaking at times. Not to mention that the UW is near the top in the nation in so many of the programs offered there. As I already mentioned Meteorology, and I am pretty sure Engineering, Medical, Business, Farming, are all way up there too, among others. The quality of education and student life are worth every penny you invest in your education, and yourself. It will pay dividends your whole life through.

Describe one of your hobbies
One of my main hobbies is triathlon training and racing. One photo I included was from my first finish at Ironman Wisconsin in September of 2010. I finished that race again in 2015. Coming back to Madison to compete in that race is one of the highlights of my life. Having an Ironman race setting be in and around my favorite city is just beyond words. Running the marathon through campus and State Street gave me the boost of energy I needed when times got really tough near the end of the race. Crossing that finish line after running around our State Capital was the best feeling in the world.