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FALL 2008
VOL. 35, NO. 1

Mark your calendars for Friday, Oct. 16, 2009, when the Badgers play the Hawkeyes.




Pinpoint: A message from the dean

Dean Paul S. Peercy

Paul S. Peercy, Dean (large image)

The College of Engineering 2010 Task Force awarded funding to a new set of projects that demonstrate major advances in providing a contemporary undergraduate engineering education.Three major forces are shaping the future of engineering education:

The following eight projects represent important steps in our efforts to ensure that our graduates are prepared to compete in this rapidly changing world.

Computational Methods in Materials Processing

Assistant Professors Ryan Kershner and Paul Evans, along with Senior Information Processing Consultant Paul Oliphant, are developing class modules that will offer a cutting-edge perspective on materials processing and process modeling via computational models. Integrating simulations with math content will allow students to model real manufacturing processes, which require a fundamental understanding of computer simulations and constitutive equations. The modules, which can be incorporated into a variety of courses, will debut in ME 314, Introduction to Competitive Manufacturing.

InterEgr 150: SI Problem Solving Workshop

Faculty Associate and Director of Supplementary Instruction Jia-Ling Lin, along with Professors Gregory Moses, Nicola Ferrier, Robert Witt, Assistant Dean Donald Woolston, Physics Professor Peter Timbie and Tao Han, will create online materials to strengthen the instructional part of the supplementary program. The materials will allow students with different learning preferences to study and solve problems at their own pace in “gateway” courses such as statics, dynamics and introductory physics. The project is part of a strategy to reduce attrition in engineering enrollment and increase students’ ability to solve practical problems.

Enhancing Liberal Studies for Engineering Students

Professor Jeffrey Russell, Director of the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies Daniel Kleinman and CALS Assistant Dean Sarah Pfatteicher are exploring how to better expose engineering students to the humanities and social sciences, a need addressed by two recent studies by the National Academy of Engineering. Russell and his colleagues will evaluate current opportunities in the humanities for engineering students. The team will provide recommendations on how students can maximize elective credits to gain a comprehensive understanding of the social contexts of engineering projects, such as cultural and political issues, which will help students prepare for meaningful careers.

International Engineering Development

Associate Professor Giri Venkataramanan and Adjunct Professor Norm Doll are developing a course to provide leadership training for students participating in international projects. Initially, students will design and implement projects in countries where the UW-Madison Engineers Without Borders chapter is active. The course will offer an organized structure for students wanting to provide engineering services to third-world countries and gain global experience.

Video-Enhanced Instructional Material for Statics

Professor Michael E. Plesha will develop video clips and animations for EMA 201, Statics, one of the first engineering courses that many students take. The videos will help students understand phenomena that are difficult to comprehend or visualize, such as mechanisms in structures, bearings that support shafts, and construction of free body diagrams.

Engineering Leadership: Building Capacity at all Levels

Faculty Associate Chris Carlson-Dakes, Professors Patricia Brennan, John Booske, Nicola Ferrier, Jeffrey Russell and Human Ecology Professor Emeritus Chere Gibson are developing an engineering course to help students develop core leadership skills that will apply to leadership roles beyond the classroom. Students will examine their personal leadership and communication styles while developing a leadership portfolio documenting their work on a course project. Ultimately, students will leave with an understanding of what it means to be leaders in their fields and debunk the myth that they can’t be leaders in industry until many years into their careers.

Introduction to Society’s Engineering Grand Challenges

Professor Susan Hagness will lead a cross-disciplinary group in expanding the freshman Grand Challenges course, which aims to inspire students to become engineers to improve the quality of life around the world. Based on challenges outlined by the National Academy of Engineering, the course will now include technical communication components to advance the “writing across the engineering curriculum” system initiated by Director of Technical Communications Laura Grossenbacher. Three additional faculty instructors will join the course, a key step toward long-term sustainability.

Engineering Problem Solving with Computers

Professors Gregory Moses, John Hoopes, Robert Nowak and Jim Rawlings will assess the three computer problem-solving courses they developed as a 2010 pilot program. The courses are in the civil and environmental engineering, chemical and biological engineering and engineering physics departments. This year, the team will add a fourth course in electrical engineering. Each course is individual and teaches material from its specific department. This project allows the faculty members involved to collaborate in finding effective methods to introduce sophomore students to the principles of computer problem-solving.

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