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Cover of the Winter 2008 issue


VOL. 34, NO. 2






Bezalel C. Haimson

As a professor of materials science and engineering, Bezalel Haimson was most interested in the material right under his feet: the earth's crust. Throughout his career, Haimson has investigated stress in rock formations, which is important not only in tectonics, but also for harvesting energy resources such as oil, natural gas and coal. His group developed a simple method called hydrofracturing that uses pressurized water to measure the state of stress in rock mass at any depth. Haimson's hydrofracturing techniques are used by researchers and field engineers worldwide.

He also made major contributions in the field of rock mechanics, such as developing triaxial strength criteria, determining causes of borehole instability and replicating “compaction bands.”

Haimson earned his BS in mining engineering from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and an MS and PhD in rock mechanics from the University of Minnesota. He worked as a senior researcher for Halliburton Oil Service Co. before joining the college in 1969. Haimson helped establish the Geological Engineering program and directed it for 11 years.

Among his many honors, he has received the American Rock Mechanics Association Award for Research in Rock Mechanics; two U.S. National Committee for Rock Mechanics applied research awards; the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration Rock Mechanics Award; the Byron Bird Award for an outstanding research publication; and three Polygon teaching awards.

Charles G. Hill, Jr.
John T. and Magdalen L. Sobota Professor Charles G. Hill Jr. retired following a 39-year career in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, where he made contributions as a teacher, researcher and administrator.

Hill received SB, SM and ScD degrees in chemical engineering from the Masachusetts Institute of Technology in 1959, 1960 and 1964, respectively. From 1964-65, he was an assistant professor of chemical engineering and a Ford Foundation postdoctoral fellow at MIT. Before joining UW-Madison in 1967, he served as a first lieutenant and captain at the U.S. Army Nuclear Defense Lab in Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland.

Known as an outstanding teacher, Hill received more than 20 awards from student groups and divisions of the university for excellence in the classroom. To facilitate his undergraduate teaching, he authored the widely used textbook, An Introduction to Chemical Engineering Kinetics and Reactor Design, which went through 29 printings since first published in 1977. His first professional goal in retirement is to complete a second edition of the book.

Hill was a very capable administrator, serving as department chair and as associate chair for both graduate affairs and undergraduate matters. For more than a quarter of a century, he was heavily involved in recruiting graduate students to the chemical engineering program.

A highly respected researcher, Hill worked on interdisciplinary problems long before it became popular to do so. He continues to collaborate extensively with individuals working at academic and research institutions in Spain, Mexico and Korea on problems involving adding value to naturally occurring fats and oils to produce nutraceuticals—foods with both nutritional values and therapeutic or preventive medicinal values.

Hill has held a courtesy appointment as professor of food science and a seat on the executive committee of the Environmental Chemistry and Technology Program. He authored more than 300 publications in archival journals and presentations at professional society meetings. He has also supervised 38 PhD theses and nearly 30 MS candidates working on a wide range of research problems.

Michael J. Smith
Noted for his research in human factors engineering and beloved by his students, Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor Michael J. Smith retired from the College of Engineering June 2. A Madison native, Smith received his bachelor's degree in psychology ('68) and master's and doctorate degrees in industrial psychology ('70 and '73) from UW-Madison. He joined the College of Engineering as a faculty member in 1984, after 10 years at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, where he developed OSHA guidelines still used today.

Throughout his career, Smith has studied both the biomechanical and cognitive aspects of technology and the workplace. His specialty is human factors engineering, the study and improvement of working environments. His research has ranged from reducing occupational injuries in the workplace to improving job satisfaction and automating office technology.

Smith is a fellow of the International Ergonomics Association and has received the U.S. Public Health Service Superior Service Award for his research. He applies his expertise in various societies and on committees, and is a member of the Human Factors Society, the Institute of Industrial Engineers, and the American Society for Engineering Education, among others. As an expert in his field, he has served on numerous editorial boards for journal publications.

Smith also will be remembered for his role as an educator. He has received numerous teaching awards, including several Polygon instructor of the year awards, the Benjamin Smith Reynolds Award for distinguished teaching of engineers, and the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award. He held the Duane H. & Dorothy M. Bluemke Professorship for excellence in instruction and the Robert Ratner Undergraduate Chair.

His students appreciate his guidance so much that in 2003, they established a one-time award to recognize his outstanding service as a researcher, teacher and person. Students, current and former, banded together to surprise Smith with the Excellence in Holistic Education Award, even luring the modest professor to the reception under the pretense that one of his advisees was being honored.

In his retirement, Smith hopes to spend more time with his wife, daughters and grand-children. He plans to travel, fish and keep in shape by playing tennis. He also is staying active professionally by continuing to consult in the field of ergonomics.

“I already miss my students and faculty friends,” says Smith. “There is something very special about being around smart people that keeps a person on his toes and sharp. That interaction will be the hardest thing to replace.”

John J. Uicker, Jr.
Mechanical Engineering Professor John J. Uicker Jr. retired after 40 years in the department. He earned his BS (University of Detroit), MS and PhD (Northwestern University), all in mechanical engineering.

Since joining the college in 1967, Uicker has been instrumental in establishing new directions of study. Early in his career, he helped his department acquire access to teaching computers, which was the beginning of Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE), a center now used by the entire college. In 1982, Uicker served as the first CAE director. He also was involved in establishing the manufacturing systems engineering master's degree program and the Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics at UW-Madison.

Uicker co-authored, with J.E. Shilgley (University of Michigan), the textbook Theory of Machines & Mechanisms, recognized as the leading text on the subject. He also served as editor-in-chief of the international journal Mechanism & Machine Theory.

His research program has developed an extensive computer software system called the Integrated Mechanisms Program (IMP) for the kinematic, static, and dynamic simulation of rigid body mechanical systems such as robots and automotive suspensions. Hundreds of academic institutions and industry companies now use IMP. Uicker also developed geometric modeling software systems, including one to simulate solidification in metal castings and one to determine possible collisions between moving objects.

Among his many honors, Uicker is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and has been awarded the ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Award, and honored twice by ASME for historically significant publications. He received the 1985 Byron Bird Award for excellence in a research publication and the 1977 Pi Tau Sigma teacher of the year award.

He feels that what has kept him motivated throughout his 40 years is the ever-increasing level of talent shown by the undergraduate engineering students attending UW-Madison.

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