Engineers’ Day

2010 Early-Career Achievement Award

Chad M. Sorenson
President and Co-founder
Sologear LLC
Middleton, Wisconsin

2010 Distinguished Achievement Awards

William C. Beckman
CEO
X-nth
Maitland, Florida

Dawn Ann Harms
Vice President
Marketing and Sales
Space Systems/Loral
Palo Alto, California

Show Chung Ho
Chairman
SinoPac Holdings Co., Ltd.
Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.

Aicardo Roa-Espinosa
President
Soil Net LLC
Madison, Wisconsin

Nitish V. Thakor
Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Neurology
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland

Dan J. Thoma
Office Leader — Materials Design Institute
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos, New Mexico

Steven J. Zinkle
Director — Material Science and Technology Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

2010 Early-Career Achievement Award Recipient

Chad Sorenson

Chad M. Sorenson
President and Co-founder
Sologear LLC
Middleton, Wisconsin

Chad Sorenson, a passionate innovator and entrepreneur who converts smart ideas into real products, has received numerous innovation and business planning awards, holds two U.S. patents, and has an active passion for teaching college students about new product development and entrepreneurship.

Born in Blaine, Minnesota, Sorenson now resides in Oregon, Wisconsin. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in business administration from UW-Madison. By 2002, he had begun his first of three businesses.

Sorenson founded Fluent Systems, an agricultural technology company based on his invention, a wireless fluid level monitoring system for fertilizer application. He managed all stages of company development from formation through product development, man-ufacturing scale-up, and market introduction.

Fluent Systems founding invention, the TankMate, placed first in both the UW-Madison Schoofs Prize for Creativity and the Tong Prototype Prize and second in the G. Steven Burrill Technology Business Plan competitions. Sorenson sold Fluent after 18 months for $1.5 million to Raven Industries, a public corporation involved in agricultural flow control technologies.

In 2004, Sorenson started Mendota Research, which consulted on marketing viability of new products. With Bose Corporation as an anchor client, the company focused its market research and technology assessments on active suspension systems for the trucking and agriculture industries meanwhile developing business plans and strategies for other new ventures.

In 2005, Sorenson and his business partners created Sologear, LLC, after inventing its founding product, the FlameDisk, a non-charcoal grilling fuel and eco-friendly, easy-to-use product that emits 92 to 99 percent fewer known air pollutants than charcoal. He is growing his latest business with a new product expected to release soon.

Sorenson is also active in the education community. He shares his experiences and knowledge with a new crop of potential entrepreneurs at UW-Madison. He has served as a judge for the UW-Madison Innovation Days competitions and now teaches a seminar series on creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

He enjoys reading non-fiction books and playing tennis and golf. He also experiments with video editing software and works around his house. Following his father’s lead as an engineer, Sorenson still cherishes his favorite childhood hobbies of remote control airplanes, model rocketry and aquariums.


2010 Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients

William C. Beckman

William C. Beckman
CEO
X-nth
Maitland, Florida

Inspired by his father, now a UW-Madison mechanical engineering professor emeritus, William Beckman earned a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering in 1980. “I thought civil would be good,” he says. “That way I wouldn’t have to take his class.”

During college, Beckman worked at Affiliated Engineers Inc. in Madison and moved to full time after graduation, designing building systems in the AEI plumbing, HVAC and fire protection department. In 1982, he transferred to the Gainesville, Florida, offices to serve as lead engineer for many high-profile projects.

Those who know Beckman say he believes resting on one’s laurels in not an option and he is always scanning the horizon looking for a higher mountain to climb. In 1984, he ventured out on his own as a mechanical engineer. With an electrical engineer in Tampa, Florida, he founded Tanasee & Associates, a mechanical/electrical consulting firm that delivered projects for the area’s housing authority and local school systems. It was there that Beckman designed one of the first thermal storage HVAC systems in the country.

Beckman then joined GRG Consulting Engineers in Maitland, Florida, as the lead mechanical engineer. In 1985, he was elected president and after years of many mergers and acquisitions, Beckman and partners converted the company into what is now X-nth, an international premier design engineering firm in the entertainment, hospitality, gaming, healthcare, science and mission- critical market sectors of the building industry. In late 2009, X-nth merged with TROW Global, a multinational design firm serving the entire built environment. The combined organization has nearly 100 office locations, a staff of almost 4,000 people, and annual revenues approaching $500 million.

On behalf of X-nth, Beckman contributes to many charities, including the Universal Orlando Foundation, Junior Achievement, and the Boy Scouts, to name a few. “I know Beckman” is a common phrase heard among X-nth employees when they tell others where they work. However, that recognition comes not through marketing endeavors or business dinners, but rather via his creative engineering solutions or game point in a ping-pong match.

Beckman married a UW-Madison alumna, Janet. Their eldest son, Christopher, is a University of Florida (UF) engineering graduate, former wakeboarding professional, and engineer-in-training at X-nth. Their younger son, Kyle, is an engineering student at UF and an All-American Middie lacrosse player. The adventure-seeking family enjoys good food, athletic activity and traveling to exotic places.


William Beckman

Dawn Ann Harms
Vice President
Marketing and Sales
Space Systems/Loral
Palo Alto, California

Dawn Harms, a Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, native who was a first-generation college student, is an exceptional role model for both female and non-traditional engineering students. Her professional career is marked by a journey from design engineer to corporate leader and Harms now is vice president of marketing and sales at Space Systems/Loral, a world-leading manufacturer of communications satellites headquartered in Palo Alto, California. In her position, she is responsible for securing and sustaining more than $1 billion annually in gross sales of realistic satellite systems in a high-stakes, vital and vibrant international industry.

In 1984, at age 25, Harms enrolled at UW-Madison and received a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. She began her engineering career designing traveling wave tubes at Teledyne MEC in Palo Alto, California. In 1987, she became business director for the company’s commercial communications product line.

Harms joined Ford Aerospace, which became Space Systems/Loral, as a subcontract engineering manager in 1990. In this capacity, she specified and negotiated requirements for microwave components and provided technical oversight for the subcontracts with vendors worldwide. In 1993, she served as sales director of the company’s Asia Pacific business development and then vice president of marketing and sales for the Americas in 1996 before advancing to her current position.

In 2010, Harms was elected to the board of directors of the Society of Satellite Professionals International. She frequently participates in worldwide conference panels representing the satellite manufacturer’s perspective within the industry and in advanced engineering, management and leadership programs. She served on the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Industrial Advisory Board for five years and hosted events to foster relations between alumni and the ECE department. She is excited to rejoin the board beginning in 2011.

Harms is a member of the Bay Area Badgers, Wisconsin Alumni Association, Special Need Children Center Foundation and a supporter of Habitat for Humanity. Harms resides in Sunnyvale, California, with her husband, Greg, who is also an engineer in the space industry. They are the proud parents of Alyson, Geoffrey and Derek. Alyson is currently in law school at the University of San Francisco and their twin sons, Derek and Geoffrey, are entering the first grade. Harms is a board member of Amazing Creations Preschool and Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School. In her free time she cherishes family time at their vacation home on the Pacific coast.


Show Chung Ho

Show Chung Ho
Chairman
SinoPac Holdings Co., Ltd.
Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.

Show Chung Ho is a leading industrial and financial figure in Taiwan. He is a director and the former chairman of the Yuen Foong Yu (YFY) Paper Manufacturing Co. Ltd., and the chairman of the diversified financial group SinoPac Holdings.

Ho led YFY to become the largest paper company in Taiwan and a leading player in the greater China market. With 44 years of expertise covering the full production cycle from upstream forestration paper manufacturing to downstream printing and converting, he is an acknowledged visionary in the industry and has put the company at the forefront of the fast-growing electronic paper market.

As chairman of SinoPac, he transformed a local community bank into the third-largest financial holdings group in Taiwan.

Ho was born in 1945, just before the surrender of Japan and the beginning of Taiwan’s political transformation as the Republic of China. He is one of the first in the baby-boomer generation and has been an integral part of Taiwan’s post-war economic miracle.

In 1967, he received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from National Cheng Kung University, and was accepted for admission to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He received a master’s segree in 1969.

Upon receiving his master’s, he returned to Taiwan to work with his father, Chuan Ho, the founder of YFY, in launching two projects in Eastern Taiwan: CHP, a wood pulp joint venture, and a paperboard factory.

As Taiwan entered a period of rapid economic expansion in the 1970s, YFY initiated its first overseas investments, marking the beginning of YFY’s intensive international market development. In 1976, YFY established P.T. Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper Corp., IKPP (Indonesia), a pioneer in Indonesia’s paper industry. In 1984, it launched a joint venture with Siam Cement Group (Thailand) to establish Thai Paper Co. Ltd., which is now SPPC.

Both investments involved the export of machinery and manufacturing expertise. With this successful business model, both Kiat Pulp & Paper and SPPC are the largest pulp and paper companies in their domestic markets.

Technology has always been at the center of Ho’s work. With a solid belief that thin film transistors will grow quickly to become a major method of delivering the written word, YFY has established Prime View International (PVI), the first thin film transistors company in Taiwan in 1992 and started thin film transistor industry development in Taiwan.

Another key area of interest is in electronic paper. In 2008, PVI partnered with the E-Ink company and became a supplier to the Amazon Kindle.

In 2009, PVI purchased E-Ink, enabling the new company, E Ink Holding Inc., to become the global leader in e-paper. This marked the transformation of 63-year-old YFY Paper Manufacturing Co. from a being a traditional paper manufacturer to becoming a leader in the e-paper market.

With a focus on a green environment, for the past six years, YFY has researched the benefits of microorganisms and enzymes. For example, in its China plant, it recycles agricultural waste such as straw and uses it as the raw materials to produce pulp through biotechnology.

Ho has also been active in financial services. The community bank begun by his father and a few friends in 1948 — the first private bank in the country — has now become SinoPac Holdings, the third-largest financial holdings group in Taiwan.

Ho succeeded his father as chairman in 1986, a position he continues to hold. The group has 34 subsidiaries, including a commercial bank, securities firm, a venture capital group and investment trust operation, among others.

Aside from his corporate work, Ho has been active in a large number of economic and cultural development programs. Among them, he was director of the Taiwan Paper Industry Association from 1985 to 1991, where he helped to globalize Taiwan’s paper industry. He was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship in 1990 and became a member of the Eisenhower Foundation. He was a founding member of the Epoch Foundation, established with other private entrepreneurs in 1990 to help build relationships between Taiwan and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ho became a member of the 1994 Education Reform Committee (Taiwan), which made recommendations to the Taiwanese government cabinet on improving Taiwan’s education system. He is executive director of the Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI), a non-profit organization of associations from various industries in Taiwan. He was chairman of the Taiwan Biotech Association from 2006 to 2009. The association has the longest history and broadest membership of any biotech group in Taiwan. He was a member of the Taiwanese delegation to the Economic Leaders’ Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group (APEC) in 2009 and was chairman of the Chinese Professional Management Association, the largest professional management group in Taiwan, from 1986 to 1988.

Ho is married to Sing-Ju Chang, an educator and editor of children’s books. The couple founded the Hsin-Yi Foundation, the first organization in Taiwan promoting research into the importance of pre-school education. Their son Felix received a bachelor’s degree in management science and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their daughter Stephanie graduated from Brown University with a degree in political science.


Aicardo Roa-Espinosa

Aicardo Roa-Espinosa
President
Soil Net LLC
Madison, Wisconsin

Aicardo Roa-Espinosa is said to be a true American success story. Born in Palmira Valle, Columbia, he was home-schooled while his father moved frequently due to political fears. After attending college on scholarship from the city of Palmira, he received his bachelor’s degree in agronomy engineering and worked in Columbia’s sugar industry. In search of higher engineering education, he moved to the United States and received a master’s degree in 1985 and PhD in 1989, both in biological systems engineering, with a specialty in soil and water engineering from UW-Madison.

Today, he is considered the leading authority in the use of polymers in erosion control and water clarification. His U.S. career began as an industrial stormwater project coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

His extensive experience in soil conservation yielded award-winning dust-control developments for landing helicopters in the 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom campaign with the U.S. Marine Corps, marking him as one of the most knowledgeable people in the United States in polymer-based erosion control.

After this success, he formed his own company, Soil Net, in 2004, to apply the technology. The company produces, supplies and develops separation technology for a number of different applications, including polymer-based vegetable-oil refining, biodiesel refining, erosion control, waste separation and transformation, and water clarification. As president of Soil Net, Roa-Espinosa discovered new ways to transform solids into fertilizers, animal feed, glue, erosion control products, and slow-release fertilizer.

Remembering his roots, he co-founded Centro Hispano of Dane County, created for Wisconsin-based Cuban refugees to acclimate to life here. Recognizing that education was a fundamental factor to his success, together with Ron Simmons, Peter Muñoz, and the DNR, he founded a Madison elementary school tutoring program. He is also a board member of the Badger Chapter of the American Red Cross and board president for the Latin America and Caribbean consortium to support cassava research and development, the crop of the poor lands in many countries.

An honorary fellow of the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, Roa-Espinosa supports student research in collaboration with his laboratory in Belleville, Wisconsin. There, he is working to create a practical, economical polymer to control soil loss and the associated components such as phosphorus, fertilizers and agrochemicals. He enjoys traveling, botanical gardens, art museums and soccer. He has two children, Tomas and Samuel, and is married to Susan Byram.


William Beckman

Nitish V. Thakor
Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Neurology
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland

Nitish Thakor is a professor of biomedical engineering (BME), electrical and computer engineering, and neurology at Johns Hopkins University. He now directs the Laboratory for Medical Instrumentation and Neuroengineering at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to carry out interdisciplinary and collaborative engi-neering research on technologies for basic and clinical neurosciences.

Born in Nagpur, India, Thakor developed an early interest in both engineering and medicine. The first in his family to travel abroad and obtain a PhD, he completed a master’s degree in biomedical engineering in 1978 and a PhD in electrical and computer engineering in 1981, both from UW-Madison. While an undergraduate in electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Thakor developed his first interest in medical electronics and instrumentation. His undergraduate thesis was inspired by now-BME Professor Emeritus John Webster’s research, and he eventually joined Webster’s lab at UW-Madison. It was here that he developed the first portable microcomputer-based abnormal heart rhythm monitoring instrument under the supervision of Webster and BME Professor Willis Tompkins.

During his early career teaching at Johns Hopkins, Thakor carried out research on implantable defibrillators. He is now engaged in pioneering work on brain-monitoring technologies for neurocritical care, and more recently, on brain-machine interface and neural control of prosthetic limbs. He has published more than 200 refereed journal papers, edited one book, generated 11 patents, and co-founded three medical device companies. He is the editor-in-chief of the journal IEEE Transactions on Neural and Rehabilitation Engineering. He is also the director of a National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering neuroengineering training program for doctoral students. He has supervised more than 50 graduate students and as many postdoctoral fellows and research faculty. He has given more than 25 keynote or plenary talks worldwide.

Thakor is a recipient of a research career development award from the National Institutes of Health and the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and of IEEE and is a founding fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society. His honors also include the Technical Achievement in Neural Engineering Award from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society and a distinguished alumnus award from the Indian Institute of Technology. He and wife, Ruchira, have four children: Mitali, Milan, Jai and Vir.


Dan J. Thoma

Dan J. Thoma
Office Leader — Materials Design Institute
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos, New Mexico

As a boy watching his grandfathers work (one was a plumber and the other an auto-body repairman), Dan Thoma developed an artisan’s perspective of the use of metals in society.

Thoma, who obtained a PhD in metallurgical engineering and minor in chemistry at UW-Madison in 1992, has worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico ever since. He now is director of the LANL Materials Design Institute, a collaborative research program with the University of California. His career at LANL began as team leader for alloy design and development with the metallurgy group in the materials science and technology division, where he grew his team to 12 people and an annual budget of $5 million.

In 2003, he became the associate director’s science advisor for the LANL Weapon Engineering and Manufacturing Directorate. He served as chair of the materials science and engineering council and United States chair for the joint working group on nuclear materials, a collaborative technical exchange program with the United Kingdom.

Thoma’s research interests include physical metallurgy, and in particular, microstructural development during materials processing. With more than 120 publications and 200 presentations, he devotes his technical efforts to alloying theory, thermodynamics and kinetics of phase transformations and property response.

Past president of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) and of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers, Thoma is current president of the Federation of Materials Societies and board member for the United Engineering Foundation. In 2007, he received the LANL Fellow’s Prize for Leadership and the TMS Distinguished Service Award; in 2008, he earned the American Society of Materials International fellowship.

The early impressions of his grandfathers instilled in Thoma the importance of adult role models both socially and professionally. Displaying his lifelong passion for sports, the Dayton, Ohio, native coaches youth sports, through which he believes children can learn to develop balance and discipline in their lives. A 20-year supporter of Special Olympics, Thoma takes pride in coaching special-needs children, girls, and others who require strong role models.

Off the court, Thoma visits local schools as an advocate for math and physical sciences and coordinates an annual congressional visit for materials students in Washington, D.C. His wife, Ann, volunteers at the local family resource center and chaired their church’s Elizabeth Ministry. In 2008, the couple’s oldest son, Jon, went to Honduras to help at an orphanage the family supports — and to deliver soccer balls. Thoma has three other children: Andy, Nick and Rachel.


Steven J. Zinkle

Steven J. Zinkle
Director — Material Science and Technology Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Growing up on a dairy farm in southwestern Wisconsin, Steve Zinkle had limited experience with advanced technology concepts. Initially, he had planned to pursue a career as a history teacher until his high school guidance counselor suggested engineering. He enrolled as a nuclear engineering undergraduate at UW-Madison. An introductory materials science course during his junior year piqued his interest.

When he finished his bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering in 1980, Zinkle continued his education at UW-Madison, completing a master’s in 1982 and PhD in 1985, both in nuclear engineering. Then, he began a career that juxtaposed nuclear engineering and materials science. While in graduate school, Zinkle performed some of the first materials research experiments worldwide using deuterium-tritium fusion neutrons during summer work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Zinkle has worked in the materials science and technology division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) since 1985, when he joined the lab as a Eugene Wigner Fellow researching radiation effects in materials for proposed fusion energy systems. In 1992, he spent one year at research centers in Denmark, Germany and Russia as a visiting scientist, where his research subsequently broadened to include a variety of materials issues for space reactor and fission reactor systems. In 1999, he was appointed ORNL fusion materials research program manager and later nuclear materials science and technology group leader in 2001. In 2004 he was named an ORNL corporate fellow. Now director of the ORNL materials science and technology division, Zinkle provides technical management for more than 300 staff and affiliated scientists. His current research interests include deformation and fracture mechanisms in structural materials and investigation of radiation effects in ceramics and metallic alloys for fusion and fission energy systems.

Zinkle has written more than 230 peer-reviewed publications and is a fellow of the American Ceramic Society, ASM International, American Nuclear Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His awards include the American Nuclear Society Mishima Award for outstanding R&D on nuclear fuels and materials, the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers’ Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society Fusion Technology Award, and the U.S. Department of Energy Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award.

Zinkle married his wife Teresa in 1990. They have two sons, Austin and Allen, in high school. Zinkle has served as a volunteer basketball coach for several youth teams and enjoys running in his spare time.


2010 Faculty and Staff Award Recipients

The College of Engineering honored engineering faculty and staff members for their outstanding contributions and achievements at its 2010 Appreciation Day celebration May 4, 2010, including six who received Distinguished Achievement Awards from the college.


Thatcher Root

The Benjamin Smith Reynolds Award for Excellence in Teaching —
Thatcher Root
Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

The formula for making an impact on undergraduate students is a mix of meaningful instruction, curricular innovation and compassionate advising. It is a blend that Chemical and Biological Engineering Associate Professor Thatcher Root exemplifies. He has become, according to one colleague, “the backbone of our undergraduate program.” He has taught more than 2,600 students in 15 courses.

In the last four years, Root has developed CBE 562/511, Energy Technologies and Sustainability, as part of the Engineering Beyond Boundaries programs. CBE 511 focuses on alternative and emerging energy technology and will be a strong contribution to the new Certificate in Engineering for Energy Sustainability. Non-engineering students also can take the class, creating an enriching, interdisciplinary learning environment.

Root was the first chemical engineering faculty member to participate in InterEngr 160, Introduction to Engineering, and he continues to present timely and engaging projects for the freshman- level class. Root has also led a project to revise CBE 324, Transport Laboratory, to include new lab experiments, modernize the existing equipment, record background lectures, and integrate statistics and data acquisition into the class.

Additionally, Root is the director of the summer lab, a five-credit, five-week immersion course that is “much feared by undergraduates and much loved by alumni” as one faculty member describes it. There are sessions in Madison, as well as Vienna, Austria, and Oviedo, Spain, and Root coordinates both the local and international classes. “This is a big effort that is rarely, if ever, overtly recognized as such by his faculty colleagues. Yet year after year Thatcher approaches the job with enthusiasm. He knows that the summer lab experience is central — it uniquely brands the Wisconsin chemical engineer,” says a colleague.

Beyond the classroom, Root is a favorite advisor for under-graduates. He regularly meets with students, even those not formally assigned to him. “When you meet with Professor Root, it is very apparent that you are talking to someone who really cares about your future and what you learn,” says one former student.

Root has received student recognition via the Polygon instructor award five times. He has received a University Housing distinguished professor award and is a UW Teaching Academy fellow. “Professor Root works for and cares about his students in such a way that his students want to work hard in return,” says another former student.


Marc A. Anderson

The Byron Bird Award for Excellence in a Research Publication —
Marc Anderson
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

A pioneer in nanoscience, Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Marc Anderson is renowned for his creativity and groundbreaking research in controlled colloid synthesis. His contributions to light-activated semiconductor oxide catalysts and sol-gel inorganic metal oxide synthesis span fundamental surface chemistry, novel spectroscopy applications, new oxide coating synthesis methods, new material forms, and new catalysts. “His remarkable output of publications, patents and PhDs displays a beautifully balanced and combined academic productivity which is unmatched by any other U.S. academic in this area,” says David Ollis, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at North Carolina State University.

In particular, Anderson’s 1991 paper, “Semiconductor clusters in the sol-gel process: Quantized aggregation, gelation and crystal growth in concentrated ZnO colloids,” authored with then-visiting professor Lubomir Spanhel, sets forth synthesis and characterization methods that researchers still use to investigate controlled zinc-oxide particle growth. The sol-gel process enables researchers to transform a precursor chemical solution into a colloidal suspension. From this two-phase mixture of nanoscale particles or polymers, they ultimately can fabricate materials such as metal oxide ceramic membranes or thin films. Worldwide, the paper is one of the nine most-cited original contributions in sol-gel work. “Professor Anderson is among the first to explore the synthesis of nanomaterials, exemplified by ZnS, using a sol-gel process that is amenable to scaling up at controllable size,” says C.P. Huang, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Delaware.

He has used nanoparticulate materials such as zinc oxide to construct novel and commercially viable devices with such applications as air and water filtration or environmentally benign energy storage and delivery systems. His microporous ceramic materials also are used for photocatalysis, thermal catalysis, high-temperature gas-phase reactors, adsorbents, capacitors, batteries, fuel cells, and solar cells.

Anderson also is a clear U.S. leader in novel approaches to synthesizing and characterizing photo-active titanium oxides and zinc oxide, the central materials of photocatalysis, says Ollis. “He has been adventuresome in defining new fields for civil and environmental engineering, and has been creative in showing that the traditional area of colloid chemistry has a rich future in environmental processing and light-activated technologies,” he says.

David Noyce

The Ragnar E. Onstad Service to Society Award —
David Noyce
Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Each year, 42,000 people across the United States die as a result of traffic accidents, which are the leading external cause of deaths in the country. Civil and Environmental Engineering Associate Professor David Noyce would prefer that number of deaths to be zero.

Director of the UW-Madison Traffic Operations and Safety Lab, Noyce is committed to solving transportation-safety problems via multidisciplinary research, teaching and public service. He has become a national leader in an effort to develop and implement flashing yellow left-turn arrows. While drivers who intend to turn left comprehend a circular green light to mean “go,” flashing yellow arrows command driver attention and signal them to proceed with caution. To determine the best deterrent of often-serious left-turn crashes on a green light, Noyce used human factors as the primary means to identify the safety and effectiveness of various traffic signal displays. He also used dynamic animation as a key element in the research and ultimately included two life-sized driver simulators that helped him document driver understanding of traffic signals.

With project manager Kent Kacir, Noyce began this research 16 years ago as a PhD student at Texas A&M University. Recently, as a result of Noyce’s research, the Federal Highway Administration incorporated the flashing yellow arrow into the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which defines national traffic-control device standards. Now, hundreds of communities in 30 states have implemented this fundamental change in driver permissive indications.

“Noyce’s commitment to this important topic over a period of 15 years was instrumental to the success of the research and the acceptance it has gained in the practitioner community,” says W. Scott Wainwright, highway engineer for the Federal Highway Administration. “The increasing use of the flashing yellow arrow for permissive turn movements at signalized intersections nationwide is anticipated to make very significant reductions in left-turn crashes and concomitant improvements in traffic flow efficiency.”

To enhance public understanding of transportation safety, Noyce actively participates in a variety of outreach and service initiatives. He has taught professional-education courses at UW-Madison and Rutgers University National Transit Institute. He has served on boards that include the Wisconsin Traffic Records Coordinating Committee, the Safety Belt Coalition, and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Council. He has lectured internationally about transportation issues. He also has given multiple presentations and demonstrations at venues ranging from high schools to campus family outreach events.


Jay M. Samuel

James G. Woodburn Award for Excellence in Teaching —
Jay Samuel
Senior Lecturer of Materials Science and Engineering

“Take care of people.” Those four words are taped to the dresser of a former mechanical engineering student, and he credits the mantra to an instructor who has been imparting life and engineering wisdom to students for more than 30 years.

Jay M. Samuel joined UW-Madison in 1979 and was appointed a senior lecturer in the departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering in 1984. A dedicated teacher, he has instructed thousands of students early in their engineering education, and through the years he has remained an effective — and memorable — lecturer.

Samuel consistently carries a heavy teaching load and averages 1,500 student contact hours per year. He has developed several manuals for his courses, including a 300-page course manual for ME 601/ME 427, Materials Selection, which he has continuously updated since first creating it in 1979.

When Samuel took over MSE 350, Introduction to Materials Science, in the mid 1980s, he co-developed an innovative computer program to grade the homework sets of the more than 150 students enrolled in the required course every semester. His program, which was the first computer-grading program in the college, included statistics to indicate which concepts students were struggling to understand.

When a newer campus-wide computer grading system was introduced, Samuel reverted to hand-grading all of his students’ homework to make sure he was keeping in touch with what they were learning. “Jay Samuel has had an extraordinarily positive influence on the quality of teaching in the college — not by talking about quality teaching, but by doing it,” says a colleague.

Students appreciate Samuel’s thorough, hands-on approach. Although high-enrollment, introductory classes generally receive poor student evaluations, students acknowledge Samuel to be an outstanding teacher. Student comments range from the formal “This professor made learning the material enjoyable and interesting” to the more affectionate “Dr. J is money” and “Dr. J rocks.”

His interaction with students extends beyond the classroom. For the past 17 years, Samuel has been the advisor for the UW-Madison chapter of ASME, which has 150 current student members. He has participated in the Camp Badger program, Engineering Expo and Engineering Week — as a dunk tank “volunteer.”

Samuel has received multiple outstanding instructor awards from Polygon and Pi Tau Sigma, and in 2000 Samuel received the college Bollinger Academic Staff Distinguished Achievement Award.


James B. Rawlings

Harvey Spangler Award for Technology Enhanced Instruction —
James B. Rawlings
Paul A. Elfers Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering

A longtime proponent of technology-enhanced learning, Paul A. Elfers Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering James B. Rawlings draws on a suite of new and existing technological tools to engage students in such subjects as chemical process modeling and computational modeling of reactive systems.

In four chemical and biological engineering courses, Rawlings capitalizes on the powerful campus wireless network to transform simple campus classrooms into interactive teaching laboratories in which he and his students use laptop computers to tackle web-based problems in real time. Among these courses is CBE 255, Introduction to Chemical Process Modeling, a required course for sophomores that launched in 2007. Rawlings collaboratively developed the course with colleagues in engineering physics and civil and environmental engineering under an engineering problem-solving with computers linked-courses project. In CBE 255, students use laptops to access online modules in which they solve problems and learn advanced computational tools for decision-making in complex situations.

While his multifaceted teaching approach has enriched and improved engineering students’ learning experiences on campus, Rawlings co-authored a textbook and supervised creation of a software modeling language that have benefited students and researchers around the world. Co-authored with John G. Ekerdt, the text, Chemical Reactor Analysis and Design Fundamentals, takes advantage of computing and communications technology advances to prepare students to use computational methods for solving reactor-modeling problems. The 609-page book provides the educational materials to support Rawlings’ technology-enhanced instructional style in both undergraduate and graduate-level reactor-modeling courses. It contains 60 examples and 248 figures paired with online computational software and supports MATLAB (commercial software for numerical scientific computation) and the language Octave for all calculations.

As a PhD student in 1992 (and now an associate researcher) in Rawlings’ group, John W. Eaton authored and is the principal architect of Octave. Compatible with MATLAB, the free, open-source programming language enables students and researchers to solve reactor-design and other modeling problems quickly and robustly. Available for download at www.octave.org, it runs on Linux, Mac and Windows operating systems and myriad university departments worldwide use it.


Marc A. Anderson

The Bollinger Academic Staff Distinguished Achievement Award —
Laura R. Grossenbacher
Associate Faculty Associate and Director of the Technical Communication Program, Engineering Professional Development

As director of the Technical Communication Program since 2003, Laura Grossenbacher has become a vital teacher, collaborator, mentor and administrator. She teaches a host of courses, the most frequently of which is EPD 397, Technical Communication. In addition to teaching other staple communication courses, including EPD 497, Technical Editing, and EPD 155, Basic Communication, she has collaborated with faculty from various departments to integrate communication into engineering courses across the college. Several of these collaborations have been supported by the Engineering Beyond Boundaries initiative, including integrating technical writing into InterEngr 102, Introduction to Society’s Grand Challenges, implementing effective communication teaching strategies into two senior design classes, and developing online communication modules to improve skills transfer in the college.

Her teaching abilities are internationally regarded. In 2006, she traveled to Toulouse, France, to co-lead a group of students, becoming the first Engineering Professional Development professor to participate in the college international programs. In 2008, she taught a section of EPD 397 at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, and she has been invited to help Zhejiang develop a technical communications course for its engineering students. She is also an instructor for InterEng 413, Current Issues in International Engineering, a capstone course in the Certificate in International Engineering.

Grossenbacher is a trusted mentor for students. “Laura excels in helping you flesh out a promising idea, nudging you to do more with it, and then letting you take ownership,” says engineering physics research assistant Kyle Oliver, who as an undergraduate worked with Grossenbacher to develop EPD 690, Social and Ethical Impacts of Technology. Ethics is a topic she is passionate about, as she has served as advisor for the UW-Madison Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl and consistently incorporates ethics topics into her classes.

She has received numerous awards, grants and honors. Her colleagues rave about her administrative abilities. “I can’t image a fairer, more honest, more industrious or more collegial director,” says one. Another colleague says Grossenbacher’s success with students — whose evaluations include comments like “Laura is amazing” and “Give Laura a raise” — comes down to her ability to understand and appreciate engineering, though she comes from a non-engineering background. Her PhD in English is from the University of Texas at Austin.


Paula King

Classified Staff Distinguished Achievement Award —
Paula King
Financial Specialist 3, Materials Science and Engineering

At heart, Paula King is a problem solver. As a financial specialist for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering since 2001, King provides purchasing, payroll and financial support. She thrives on identifying the crux of department challenges and finding creative solutions to address those challenges.

King took the initiative to set up a tracking system for the funds provided to new faculty. Her system accounts for the commitments and expenditures in each account, and she provides advising to faculty to help them navigate the complexities of their start-up packages. “Her successful tracking system has allowed the department to understand its past, current and future resources and to plan for effective use of department resources in an enlightened way,” says a colleague.

King also spearheaded a new procurement card system for the department that provided each research group with its own card. King was dedicated to insuring the new system worked for everyone, and she facilitated each research group’s unique spending needs by developing individual strategies for reconciling transactions. According to a colleague, “There is no question that Paula is both the brains and the brawn of a complete range of grant and financial support services for our faculty, staff and students.”

Beyond her primary responsibilities, King is the first point of contact for many faculty and students with other university bureaucratic systems. “I have often had her say to me, ‘I don’t know,’ but that phrase is always followed with ‘but I’ll find out,’” says one faculty member.

When the department administrator unexpectedly retired in 2004, King stepped up to assume the majority of the administrator’s duties with little warning or training. Her experience with the department and willingness to take on the additional responsibilities helped the department navigate the transition.

King’s work ethic is complemented by her compassionate character, and those who work closest with her call her “intuitive” and “unfailingly cheerful and pleasant.” She strives to make others feel comfortable, and she is a patient advisor for graduate students dealing with the business practices of a large organization, often for the first time. “Even when I’ve made a mistake and created more work for her, she always gives me a kind word and a smile,” says a faculty member.