2008 Distinguished Achievement Awards
The College of Engineering celebrated its 61st annual Engineers’ Day on October 24 as part of UW-Madison Homecoming Week. These nine outstanding engineers were chosen for honors by various COE departments on the basis of their contributions to the engineering profession, the College of Engineering and society as a whole.
Early-Career Achievement Award
Donald W. Stanton
Donald W. Stanton remembers when he began painting. As a graduate student in mechanical engineering at UW-Madison, Stanton found a kids’ watercolor paint set in his apartment and began painting what he saw outside his window. His dabbling flourished into a collection of landscapes and some portraits that he displays in his home, gives away and very occasionally sells.
Stanton’s preference to paint landscapes reflects his passion for the environment—an interest that motivates his work as director of advanced engine research and development at Cummins Inc. Cummins is a leading producer of diesel engines above 200 horsepower. With customers in approximately 190 countries, Cummins could set the standard for diesel and natural gas products worldwide. Stanton is responsible for planning the Cummins technological path through 2020. In that role, he constantly balances environmental impact with customer need and advantageous business decisions.
Cummins has a long history of introducing environmentally friendly technologies, and in many countries, Cummins engines have emissions far below government regulations. Many of the innovative concepts in fuel economy and emission reductions are due to Stanton’s doctoral research on computational fluid dynamics, which he integrated at Cummins to produce new design processes.
Stanton began his engineering career as an undergraduate at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terra Haute, Indiana. Originally from Seymour, Indiana, Stanton was a first-generation college student. He obtained bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering, mathematics and literature.
He attended UW-Madison for his master’s and PhD in mechanical engineering, focusing on using numerical analysis to solve a variety of engineering problems, especially fluid dynamics and combustion problems.
Stanton obtained his PhD in 1998 and moved back to Indiana to begin working for Cummins in 2000. Products produced by Cummins from 2002 onward have been influenced by Stanton’s analysis tools. For Stanton, his work is a way to improve the community and world and to give back for the support he received from family and friends in his educational endeavors.
Beyond work, Stanton enjoys spending time with Ann, his wife of 14 years, and their three daughters. Rebecca is 9, Elizabeth is 5 and Madeline is 1 year old. His daughters have acquired Stanton’s interest in painting. The family also frequently hikes and bikes.
In addition to his outdoor and technical interests, Stanton enjoys reading 20th-century and current American novels.
Distinguished Achievement Awards
Charles G. Gunderson
Charles Gunderson credits his mother for sparking his technical interests. He was a comic book fan as a boy, with a stack of comics at least 2 feet high in his closet. His mother offered to buy them from him and his brother, Dennis, at full price if they promised never to purchase a comic book again. The boys took the buy-out, and in place of the comics they began reading magazines like Popular Science and Mechanics Illustrated.
The brothers went on to study mechanical engineering at UW-Madison, where Gunderson met Elaine, his wife of 52 years. When he graduated in 1956, his mother, Mildred Luella, also received her bachelor’s degree after attending school part-time for eight years.
His childhood fascination with all things mechanical evolved into a 39-year career at Chrysler. While there, Gunderson was part of a multitude of car and truck projects, including the Plymouth Road Runner, Barracuda and Dodge Stealth. He also was the original product planning manager for the Chrysler minivan.
He received his master of automotive engineering at Chrysler in 1958 and an executive management diploma from Columbia University in 1985. He held over a dozen executive positions at Chrysler, including general product manager for Dodge and Plymouth cars, director of program management for small cars, and director of product planning for all Chrysler Corp. cars and trucks.
Beyond work, Gunderson and Elaine, a retired registered nurse, have enjoyed traveling and participating in mission trips in more than 45 countries. One year they spent Christmas in Haiti with four of their five children and provided free meals and small gifts to abandoned children.
Gunderson also gives back to UW-Madison, acting for several years as president of the Detroit Alumni Club, which awarded him a distinguished service award. He has established a scholarship for engineering students and was the chair of Campaign for Wisconsin in the Detroit area. “UW-Madison has always been important to me, and I never would have achieved what I did without the education and support UW gave me as I started out,” he says.
Katherine L. Hermansen
With cobbled streets and flowerpots in every window, Assisi, Italy, is a small town three hours from Rome. Katherine L. Hermansen found herself there in May 2007, following in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare, the two saints instrumental in founding the Franciscan Order.
The 12-day trip included senior leaders of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, where Hermansen is vice president of clinical performance excellence. It was an opportunity for Wheaton leaders to deepen their understanding of the organization’s Franciscan heritage and grow together as a community engaged in a common ministry.
Wheaton’s strong commitment to its values was one reason Hermansen was attracted to the organization. Her current work focuses on developing and implementing systematic processes that will keep quality patient care high.
Hermansen’s introduction to healthcare came as a senior industrial engineering student at UW-Madison, where she conducted an operational analysis for the employee health department at the UW Hospital.
After graduation, Hermansen worked for the SwedishAmerican Health System in Rockford, Illinois, where she helped reduce turnaround time for lab test results and redesigned the hospital admission process. She also was instrumental in several quality awards the company earned.
In 1993, she obtained her MBA from Rockford College. In 2001, she moved back to her hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, to work for All Saints, a Wheaton hospital. There she oversaw several initiatives, including partnering with nursing leaders to improve patient satisfaction from the 17th to the 87th percentile and leading All Saints’ successful application for the Wisconsin Forward Award. In 2007, she was promoted to her current position at the corporate office.
A fellow of the Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society, she is one of only 26 members honored with diplomate status in the Society for Health Systems (SHS).
Hermansen grew up sailing on Lake Michigan with her father, a retired mechanical engineer, and she still competes in regattas. She also enjoys golfing and spending time with her three nephews and one niece.
When Chia-Hong Jan’s daughters ask him what he does at work, he points to their laptops and cell phones and lists a variety of features, from Wi-Fi to gigahertz processors, that exist because of his work at Intel.
As a senior principal engineer and program manager, Jan manages Intel’s most advanced 32-nanometer complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) system-on-a-chip process technologies using high dielectric constant (high-k) and metal gate transistor architecture. High-k materials will build the next generation of tiny, yet powerful transistors for use in mobile Internet devices and several consumer electronics.
Jan, who is from Taiwan, came to Madison in 1986 with his wife, Chyong-Huey Lin. Jan obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and master’s of business administration from the National Taiwan University. He entered the materials science and engineering department at UW-Madison to better understand solid-state materials. He obtained his PhD in 1991 under Professor Y. Austin Chang. His wife obtained her doctorate in chemical engineering the same year.
Jan’s solid academic background—he maintained a 4.0 grade-point average in graduate school—led to a position with Intel in 1993 in Portland, Oregon. His record of achievement has continued: Jan holds 33 U.S. patents with seven pending.
Jan received Intel’s highest individual achievement award in 2004 for his work integrating low-k interlayer dielectric (ILD) interconnects into silicon CMOS. ILD interconnects isolate conducting materials in a semiconductor, and this technology put Intel a year ahead of its competitors. In 2007, Jan’s team won an achievement award for saving Intel more than $1 billion through its efforts on 65-nanometer system-on-a-chip technology.
Outside of work, is a sports enthusiast. He plays basketball and soccer and recently has begun running. Additionally, Jan enjoys cooking. Jan and Lin have two daughters. Cathy is 21 and studies electrical engineering at Yale. Irina is 12. Between the two of them, Cathy and Irina have claimed the Oregon state gymnastics championship five times.
Three years ago, Valarie King-Bailey watched as the Stateway Garden housing projects in Chicago were torn down. The high-rises were the scene of drug deals and gang violence, and were her childhome. Now, she can see the site from her condo in Lake Point Tower, a prominent landmark in the Chicago skyline.
King-Bailey was the first student from her high school to attend UW-Madison, where she became the first black female to graduate in civil and environmental engineering. She also earned an MBA from the DeVry University Keller Graduate School of Management.
She began her career at Intergraph Corp., where she worked on the Statue of Liberty restoration and configured computer systems to facilitate the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster investigation. She gained an international reputation as a leading marketing professional for high-tech companies. She has served as a director at EMC/Documentum Inc. and Abbott Labs, and she became chief marketing officer for Ireland-based QUMAS, LTD, in 2000.
In 2004, King-Bailey founded OnShore Technology Group Inc., which specializes in rightsourcing: delivering advanced technology and consulting resources to foreign companies seeking to establish U.S. operations. She started OnShore in response to the growing number of U.S. job losses due to outsourcing. She is committed to creating and keeping technology jobs on American shores.
Her husband, Vincent Bailey, is the chief technology officer of OnShore, while her elder sister Paula King-Boston is her executive assistant. King-Bailey also has two children. Vincent Jr. is studying computer science and game design at the Chicago Flashpoint Academy. Angela graduated from high school a year early and is studying environmental engineering at Loyola University.
King-Bailey’s mother, Jeanette, encouraged her to get an education and move beyond Chicago’s project housing. To that end, Jeanette worked multiple jobs to support the family and fulfill that dream, which she shared with King-Bailey’s father, who died when she was 7. “My life is a living testament to the dedication, hard work and values passed on from my parents,” King-Bailey says.
With 50,000 students and a 1,235-acre campus, the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, China, is slightly larger than UW-Madison. Similar to its Wisconsin counterpart, HUST is located in a capital city and boasts a picturesque setting near hills, lakes and plenty of green grass.
The two universities also share something else: HUST President Peigen Li spent four years at UW-Madison, obtaining his PhD in mechanical engineering in 1987.
Li was born in Wuhan, a city with almost eight million people and a history dating back 3,500 years. Wuhan is the capital city of the Hubei province, making it the biggest hub city in central China. Li traveled east to study mechanical engineering in Shanghai in 1973. After graduating and working for a year in industry, Li returned to Wuhan to attend HUST as a graduate student.
When Li earned his master’s degree in 1981, he joined HUST as a faculty member. In 1983, he came to Madison for his doctorate, graduating with honors. Li’s research interests are in computer manufacturing; he developed a computer-aided process planning platform used widely in industry. His research group also made advances in e-manufacturing. He has published three books and more than 100 papers.
Li became dean of the HUST mechanical science and engineering school in 1995. Two years later Li and a colleague, who is now the Chinese minister of education, won a LEAD award from the Computer and Automated Systems Association of Society of Manufacturing Engineers for their work on computer-integrated manufacturing.
In 2002, Li was appointed vice president of HUST, becoming president three years later. He has introduced a series of reforms in administration and human resources.
Li is known as the “mayor” of the HUST community of almost 100,000 students, faculty and staff. His wife, Ming Kang, is a retired doctor, and the couple has been married for more than 30 years. Their daughter, Yuanyi Li, is a human resources manager of a company in Shenzhen.
James E. Rushton
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy lab. The lab has a diverse research portfolio addressing energy supply and demand. Of its multiple departments, one of the largest is the Nuclear Science and Technology Division. James E. Rushton is the division director.
Rushton oversees 205 staff members, who work on a variety of nuclear topics, including research and development of advanced nuclear energy, nuclear fuel cycles, radioisotopes for medicine, and nuclear waste technologies.
He is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, and studied physics and mathematics at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1967.
His interest in a broad range of energy topics began as a nuclear engineering graduate student at UW-Madison, where he completed one of the first energy assessments for the state of Wisconsin. Awarded an Atomic Energy Fellowship, Rushton focused his PhD work on measuring nuclear materials with the neutron slowing-down-time spectrometer.
After obtaining his PhD in 1975, Rushton applied his thesis to non-destructive measurements of nuclear materials in support of nuclear non-proliferation at ORNL. In 1979, he moved from the research world at ORNL to the nuclear fuel business. He was responsible for production optimization of three nuclear fuel enrichment plants that processed uranium for nuclear power plants in the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. He contributed to the development of advanced processes for uranium enrichment, and he later marketed these fuel services internationally.
In the early 1990s, Rushton led the Oak Ridge contributions to a U.S. legislative initiative to transfer the enrichment plants from government to private ownership. Rushton returned to ORNL in 1994 and tackled some challenging environmental cleanup projects before re-entering the R&D world to work on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear energy.
He is a member of the American Nuclear Society, the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management, and Rotary International. He is a board member of a local natural gas distribution utility. He also is active with St. Mary’s Catholic Church. He and his wife, Rebecca, enjoy golf, sailing and travel. In March 2008, they played golf at the southernmost course in the world, in Ushuaia, Chile. Their daughter, Amy, her husband, Todd, and their two children live in Cumming, Georgia. Their son, David, lives in Oak Ridge.
David J. Smukowski
David J. Smukowski is just getting started. After semi-retiring three years ago, he now is working to change global systems that prevent people from having enough food, safe water, education, jobs and a healthy environment. His goal is to initiate financing of large-scale infrastructure or job-related projects that focus on the sustainability of global resources in third-world countries. To do this, he will uphold the Wisconsin Idea and leverage universities, government and business to influence and improve lives outside of classrooms. “This achievement award is an inspiration to me and, hopefully, to other younger engineers to leverage their talents into large solutions for humanity,” Smukowski says.
It has taken a lifetime to assemble the skills and connections necessary to literally change the world. Smukowski grew up in Muskego, Wisconsin, part of a close-knit family of seven. In high school, he worked second shift at a factory to save money for UW-Madison, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering.
After graduating in 1978, he settled in Seattle, Washington, and began working for Boeing Company. He rose to the executive ranks quickly in research, design, energy and environmental affairs, business strategy, mergers and acquisitions.
Throughout his career, he chaired various trade groups and company boards. He helped draft major environmental legislation and worked as a lobbyist and advisor to the White House. He was recognized as U.S. Congress Employee of Excellence in 1988. After a two-year secondment at Berkshire Hathaway as president of flight safety, Smukowski became managing director of Boeing Ventures, where he guided and supported entrepreneurs. He launched Exostar, a business e-commerce leader, and various other business ventures.
Smukowski is currently involved with several investment groups and is the CEO of Sensors in Motion, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology spin-off that creates sophisticated microelectromechanical sensors. Smukowski belongs to many civic groups and service organizations and has led a variety of nonprofit organizations focused on leadership, youth, environment, transportation, AIDS orphans and poverty.
With his wife, Patricia, Smukowski has two daughters. Caitlin is studying biology at the University of Pennsylvania. Anna is studying finance at New York University.
David K. Swanson
David K. Swanson is an inventor on more than 250 U.S. patents, all of them issued since he turned 40. As the chief technical officer for ESTECH since 2005, Swanson is the link between surgeons and the company. His interaction with technical and medical communities allows him to see patentable new applications for technology. His role as mediator between the developers of medical devices and practitioners is a result of his dual background in engineering and physiology.
Swanson grew up outside of Belvidere, Illinois, on a farm. His family was poor, but his parents—who had only 12 years of education combined—prized education: Of the eight children in the family, five have advanced degrees. His background fixing and working with farm equipment gave Swanson an intuitive sense of how things work. He studied physics at Northern Illinois University. While working as a tutor, Swanson met Anne, a bright chemistry student, and 39 years later, they are still married.
After graduating, Swanson and Anne moved to Madison for graduate school. Swanson obtained his PhD in electrical and computer engineering and his masters in physiology, and Anne obtained a PhD in biochemistry.
They remained in Madison. Anne did cancer research and became a professor at Edgewood College, while Swanson became a scientist with what then was the cardiac surgery team at UW Hospital. One of his important roles was to act as a bridge of knowledge for incoming surgeons—his advising aided the smooth transition of two lead surgeons on the transplant team.
A new position lured Swanson to Minnesota in 1988, where he developed defibrillator technology for Cardiac Pacemakers Inc. He created an energy-efficient defibrillation method, which enabled the development of smaller, more efficient implantable defibrillators.
In 1992, Swanson moved to California to work as senior research and development director at Boston Scientific Corporation (BSC). While at BSC, Swanson filed the majority of his patents, and he still holds the record at BSC for most patents.
At BSC, Swanson worked with electrophysiologists, who are cardiology specialists focusing on diagnosis and treatment of abnormal heart rhythms. He consulted with physicians from many countries, traveling to Europe and Israel multiple times.
Though Swanson has lived in California for more than a decade, he still isn’t used to green grass in the winter. One benefit from the lack of snow is a long growing season: He enjoys gardening and cooking. He walks about three miles a day and is a Badger fan.