Engineers’ Day

2011 Early-Career Achievement Award

Jennifer A. Topinka
Senior Finance Manager
General Electric — Oil and Gas
Houston, Texas

2011 Distinguished Achievement Awards

Vincent Sik-Hung Chan
Director, Theory and Computational Science,
  Energy and Electromagnetic Systems Group
General Atomics
San Diego, California

Michael R. Duckett
President
Duckett Group, Inc.
Brookfield, Wisconsin

David U. Furrer
Senior Fellow, Discipline Lead
Pratt & Whitney
East Hartford, Connecticut

J. Michael Jensen
Vice President, Global Research and Development, retired
Procter & Gamble
Cincinnati, Ohio

Appu Kuttan
Founder and Chairman of the Board
National Education Foundation Inc.
Alexandria, Virginia

Richard M. Lynch
President
J.H. Findorff & Son, Inc.
Madison, Wisconsin

James R. Meister
Vice President, Operations Support
Exelon Nuclear
Warrenville, Illinois

Brian J. Rauch
Vice President, Engineering, John Deere Construction
and Forestry Division
Deere and Company
Dubuque, Iowa

James D. Woodburn, Jr.
Chief Medical Officer and Director
Applied Pathways, LLC
Deephaven, Minnesota

2011 Early-Career Achievement Award Recipient

Jennifer A. Topinka

Jennifer A. Topinka
Senior Finance Manager
General Electric — Oil and Gas
Houston, Texas

In only seven years, Jennifer Topinka has established herself as a rising start at General Electric (GE). As the engineering finance manager for GE Oil and Gas, Topinka is responsible for $200 million in research and development investment and engineering finances. Her work stems from a passion for fuel efficiency. While at UW-Madison, she was very active on the vehicle teams, participating as the team leader on the UW-Madison FutureTruck project, a unique challenge for engineering students that brought academia together with government and industry resources to improve fuel efficiency in sport utility vehicles.

She balanced academic performance with many extracurricular commitments, including research projects at the UW-Madison Robotics Laboratory and Engine Research Center with Mechanical Engineering Professors Nicola Ferrier and Pat Farrell, respectively. She also was active with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Pi Tau Sigma and the Society of Women Engineers.

Topinka graduated with her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2001 and completed her master’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003, where she researched lean burn engines. She then joined GE as mechanical engineer at the GE Global Research Center in New York, where she continued her research interest in developing new technologies to enhance fuel efficiency in internal combustion engines. Working closely with GE Transportation, she developed and tested low-emission technology for locomotive engines. Topinka is listed as an inventor on four issued patents for new engine technologies, including a system to control fuel injection events.

In 2008, Topinka joined the GE Corporate Audit Staff, a two-year internal leadership program. During the program, she completed global assignments across multiple GE businesses ranging from core industrial to financial services. She acquired business acumen by performing process and financial risk assessments and addressing required improvements. After graduating from the program in 2010, Topinka moved to an engineering finance role at GE Oil and Gas, located in Houston, Texas. As a senior finance manager she is responsible for the platform-wide engineering budget, as well as analysis to optimize research and development budget allocations.

Topinka has championed environmental initiatives that focus on driving environmental responsibility. At GE she has co-founded two organizations, including we “c” green at the GE Global Research Center and EcoForum within the GE corporate audit staff.


2011 Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients

Vincent Sik-Hung Chan

Vincent Sik-Hung Chan
Director, Theory and Computational Science,
  Energy and Electromagnetic Systems Group
General Atomics
San Diego, California

Vincent Sik-Hung Chan’s interest in fusion energy began when he was inspired by an article in Scientific American and completed an independent study project on the topic as an undergraduate at UW-Madison. He went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical and computer engineering in 1972 and 1973. In 1975, Chan received his PhD in electrical engineering and also married Pauline, a UW-Madison pharmacy student.

He then joined General Atomics, in San Diego, California, as a research scientist and moved into various leadership roles, including head of fusion theory in 1987 and director of core physics of the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in 1991. He was named to his current position as director of the theory and computational science division in the energy group in 1998. His division maintains a diverse array of research and development projects, including fusion and fission energy systems, nuclear instrumentation and computer technology tools for remote collaboration.

Chan has contributed to a broad spectrum of plasma physics research. He spearheaded the advanced tokamak concept for economical fusion energy and champions using high-performance computing in magnetic fusion research and has produced more than 100 broadly cited journal articles. In 1988, Chan was named an American Physical Society (APS) fellow for his pioneering studies of current drive in tokamak fusion reactors and stabilizing plasma instabilities via resonant microwave heating. He has served as an APS Division of Plasma Physics officer, becoming chair in 2007.

Chan has participated on several governmental and international committees, including the U.S. Department of Energy Fusion Energy Science Advisory Committee. In 2001 he became coordinator of the United States and China magnetic fusion collaboration program, which has trained hundreds of Chinese fusion scientists and contributed to the success of a world-class Chinese Academy of Sciences research facility. For his work, Chan was one of only seven international scientists to receive the prestigious China State International Science and Technology Cooperation Award in 2010.

Additionally, Chan continues to stay engaged with UW-Madison. He currently serves on the College of Engineering Dean’s Industrial Advisory Board. “The strong foundation in physics and engineering provided by UW-Madison has served me well,” Chan says.

Chan and Pauline have two children. Brian is a medical intern at the Oregon Health and Science University, and Kevin is a physics doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkeley.


Michael R. Duckett

Michael R. Duckett
President
Duckett Group, Inc.
Brookfield, Wisconsin

As executive director for the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District, Michael Duckett has transformed his boyhood passions for his community and athletics into his livelihood: He managed the planning, design and construction of Miller Park, the state-of-the-art Milwaukee Brewers baseball stadium. Now, he represents the public’s interest in the ballpark and oversees its operation, capital repairs and improvements.

Duckett’s passion for his community came from his mother’s family — residents of Waukesha, Wisconsin, for several generations — while his athletic inspiration came from his father, a high school teacher, administrator and basketball coach. As a boy, Duckett attended the basketball team’s practices and learned the value of effort and teamwork. Now, he is known for his hard-working, collaborative approach — skills that have enabled him to be part of many successful projects and activities.

He earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degrees in civil and environmental engineering in 1974 and 1975, respectively, and is a licensed professional engineer and registered land surveyor. Duckett began his professional career as a project supervisor with Jahnke & Jahnke Associates of Waukesha and moved to HNTB Corp. in 1983. As a vice president at HNTB, he managed the company’s Milwaukee surface transportation group and its Minneapolis office.

He became executive director of the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District in 1996 and founded the Duckett Group of Brookfield, Wisconsin, in 2001. The Duckett Group has provided engineering and management services for numerous projects, including the Lambeau Field renovation and the Marquette Interchange reconstruction, and for construction of the Acuity Insurance corporate headquarters, the Minnesota Twins Target Field, and the Summerfest festival grounds in Milwaukee.

Duckett is a member of the Miller Park Community Program board of directors, which provides scholarships for minority and female students interested in careers engineering or construction. He chairs the Waukesha Engineering Preparatory Academy governing board and serves on the boards of the Waukesha County Community Foundation and Acuity Insurance. He also is a member of the UW-Madison civil and environmental engineering visiting committee.

Duckett and his wife, Jill, live in Brookfield. Their oldest daughter, Megan, is a UW-Madison alumna now enrolled in veterinary school. Daughter Brooke and son Luke attend UW-Milwaukee and UW-Eau Claire, respectively. The family continues to enjoy Duckett’s boyhood passions for community and participation in athletic activities.


David U. Furrer

David U. Furrer
Senior Fellow, Discipline Lead
Pratt & Whitney
East Hartford, Connecticut

David U. Furrer’s professional life has come full circle. He began his career as a materials engineer at Pratt & Whitney, and 25 years later, Furrer is back at the company as a senior fellow and discipline lead. In between, he became a leading international authority on aerospace material.

Originally from Dodgeville, Wisconsin, Furrer was motivated to pursue engineering by a couple of his high school teachers. At UW-Madison, he found another mentor in Materials Science and Engineering Professor John Perepezko, whose research sparked Furrer’s interest in materials. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in metallurgical engineering at UW-Madison in 1986 and 1988, respectively. At UW-Madison Furrer also met his wife, Patti, who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in metallurgical engineering in 1983 and 1990, respectively.

After graduating, Furrer joined Pratt & Whitney, moving on to SSI Technologies as a metallurgical engineer, and Ladish Company Inc, where he progressed to advanced positions. In 1999, he earned his doctorate in engineering from the Universität Ulm in Germany and continued at Ladish, becoming chief metallurgist in 2006. In 2006, Furrer joined Rolls-Royce, where he eventually became chief of strategic materials and process technology. He rejoined Pratt & Whitney in 2010. His current role is the company’s highest technical position. He is responsible for leading all of the materials discipline chiefs and materials fellows in developing technical strategy and improving all materials engineering work.

A variety of governmental and industrial groups recognize Furrer’s expertise. He has advised the U.S. Air Force as chair of the Metals Affordability Consortium and participated on the National Academy of Sciences National Materials Advisory Board.

Furrer also is a champion for establishing closer links between materials technology and other engineering functions. His contributions have advanced processing methods for a wide range of materials, enabling higher-performance components for turbine engines, airframes and rocket applications. He has received many patents, awards and honors, including the Johnson Controls Award for Outstanding Part-Time Faculty for his work as an adjunct professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering from 2000-2006. Furrer has published more than 70 journal articles and conference proceeding and is the editor of two handbooks. He also is active as a member of several professional engineering organizations, including TMS and ASM-International, where he is a member of the board of trustees and participates in high school and university scholarship efforts.


J. Michael Jensen

J. Michael Jensen
Vice President, Global Research and Development, retired
Procter & Gamble
Cincinnati, Ohio

When J. Michael Jensen graduated from UW-Madison in 1973 with his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, the list of potential employers included a racetrack out west or a consumer-products company in Cincinnati. Jensen wisely chose the latter and began a 34-year career with Procter and Gamble that enabled him to couple his love of technology with his passion for innovation. After holding several positions in research and development, Jensen retired in 2008 as global vice president of research and development for Procter and Gamble.

Throughout his career, Jensen was especially adept at creating new or reinventing existing Procter and Gamble businesses whose products had major effects on consumers’ lives. Among those are Always fem-care, Pampers diapers, Swiffer cleaning products, and Febreze air-fresheners. He also led teams that, for example, developed calcium-citric-maleate for products such as orange juices, packaging that keeps products such as Folgers coffee fresher, and technology called Nutri-Star that helps provide essential nutrients to millions of children around the world. In his leadership roles, he implemented cost-effective, innovative processes and new plant designs for Procter and Gamble businesses in developing countries and developed new business models and partnerships. Jensen also devoted energy as a recruiter to developing the research and development organization itself. Today, thanks to his efforts, hundreds of Badger alumni lead Procter and Gamble initiatives worldwide. Additionally, he has been a champion — both inside and out of Procter and Gamble — for building a diverse, inclusive culture.

Jensen, who now works as a consultant, almost didn’t become an engineer. Following in his parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps, he enrolled at UW-Madison. He planned to major in math and ultimately become an astronomer. However, two years into his education, he realized that line of study didn’t align with his passion, which was developing solutions that improve people’s lives.

He long has been a community leader in Wyoming, Ohio, where he and wife Mary, a retired Procter and Gamble executive, live. He has served as board member of the Wyoming School Foundation and coached myriad youth sports. Jensen also serves on the UW-Madison Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering visiting committee and the engineering diversity board.

He enjoys the outdoors and, in an effort to achieve net-zero energy use, he and Mary recently built a lake home in Madison that includes geothermal, active solar, and other energy-saving principles.
The couple have four children: Katy, 28; Cassie, 26; Pat, 24;
and Susie, 22.


Appu Kuttan

Appu Kuttan
Founder and Chairman of the Board
National Education Foundation Inc.
Alexandria, Virginia

One million. It’s the number of disadvantaged students Appu Kuttan helps via the National Educational Foundation (NEF), the nonprofit he founded in 1989, dedicated to bridging academic, digital and employment divides through digital education. NEF’s mission is to make high-quality education accessible to everyone around the world, especially in the United States and India.

Kuttan received his bachelor’s degree in India in 1963. He came to the United States on the prestigious TATA scholarship, and earned a master’s degree from Washington University in 1966, and a PhD in industrial engineering from UW-Madison in 1968. He then launched what would become an illustrious career as a global systems expert.

¬†Kuttan pioneered an influential management by systems (MBS) concept that has been applied around the world. In the 1970s, he helped the Puerto Rican government significantly improve traffic safety by implementing his MBS strategies. Invited by the Venezuelan government, he turned its social security and healthcare program deficit into a surplus, while improving services. He advised Indian leaders on how to turn its economy into an information technology powerhouse. ¬† His expertise also has made him a valued advisor to U.S. leaders, including the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He has published several books, including From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunity. His latest is Happy Executive — Nurturing Mind, Body and Soul.

In 1986, Kuttan purchased the world-famous Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida and helped develop three tennis world champions — Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Jim Courier via Total Tennis based on MBS. After pivotal conversations in 1993 with President Clinton and Intel founder Gordon Moore, Kuttan sold the tennis academy and used the proceeds to fund NEF, where he remains the CEO and chairman of the board.

The most visible NEF program is CyberLearning, which Kuttan launched in 1993 to provide students in the most disadvantaged U.S. schools with better science, technology, engineering, math, English, social studies, business and test preparation skills. In 2011, CyberLearning launched a program in India with IGNOU, the largest open university in the world, to train, certify and help place a million disadvantaged college students in information technology jobs.

NEF is based in Alexandria, Virginia. Kuttan’s wife, Claudia, a UW-Madison alumna; their son, Roger, a Stanford JD-MBA grad and U.S. Presidential honoree; and daughter Maya, a UCLA environmental law and USC award-winning film graduate, all serve NEF.


Richard M. Lynch

Richard M. Lynch
President
J.H. Findorff & Son, Inc.
Madison, Wisconsin

In a distinguished career that spans nearly 30 years with Madison construction firm J.H. Findorff and Son, Richard M. Lynch has overseen projects ranging from the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center and Overture Center for the Arts to the American Family Children’s Hospital and Epic Systems campus.

One of Wisconsin’s leading builders, Findorff annually completes more than $300 million in construction projects. Lynch started his career with the company in 1984 as a project manager and became an owner and vice president in 1992. He was named executive vice president in 1997 and president in 2002, a role he still fills today.

Under Lynch’s leadership, Findorff has remained at the forefront of cutting-edge construction processes, equipment and technology. Additionally, the company is committed to using green building practices and includes on its staff Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professionals.

As part of its corporate vision, Findorff strives to be a leader in sustainable construction both on and off the job site. In addition to numerous “best contractor” awards, the company also has received many accolades for its environmental excellence.

Beyond Findorff, Lynch contributes his expertise to such organizations as the United Way of Dane County, Downtown Madison Inc., the Madison Community Foundation, the Madison Chamber of Commerce, National W Club, and others. He is past president and an active committee member of the Association of General Contractors of Wisconsin, serves on the UW-Madison Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering advisory board, and is a speaker in various classes at the university.

A Prospect Heights, Illinois, native, Lynch worked during high school as a laborer for his father — an engineer, contractor and developer. Lynch entered UW-Madison with medical school in mind, but learned his strongest interests were in architecture and construction. He earned his bachelor’s degree in construction administration in 1974 from what now is the Department of Biological Systems Engineering and, before joining Findorff, spent the first nine years of his career working for a smaller family-owned contractor.

In his spare time, Lynch enjoys swimming workouts, golf, reading and anything outdoors. He has been married to his wife, Mary,
for 37 years and has three children: Courtney, 33; Ryan, 31;
and Sean, 29.


James R. Meister

James R. Meister
Vice President, Operations Support
Exelon Nuclear
Warrenville, Illinois

Growing up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, James Meister enjoyed math and science — yet he never expected he would become a nuclear engineer. Rather, Meister assumed he’d be a carpenter, as his father, grandfathers and three uncles were. He learned about the hands-on challenges engineers face as he watched his father and uncles quickly redesign their own homes as their families grew. At that point, Meister also realized carpentry was not his calling. He enrolled at UW-Madison and earned his bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering in 1978.

He took a job at Sargent and Lundy Engineers in Chicago, where he helped design and build two-unit pressurized water reactor nuclear power plants for Public Service of Indiana and for Commonwealth Edison. He also was project engineer at the Commonwealth Edison Braidwood Generating Station and site manager at the Byron Nuclear Generating Station. Ultimately, he became project manager for both stations.

Meister joined Commonwealth Edison — now Exelon — in 1994. With 17 nuclear reactors in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Exelon Nuclear is the largest operator of nuclear power plants in the United States and serves 5.4 million customers. Meister initially was engineering manager at the Braidwood station and later participated on a team that restarted Unit 2 of the LaSalle County Generating Station after an extended shutdown. After serving as LaSalle station manager, he became engineering vice president for Exelon Nuclear in 2001.

He currently is vice president for operations support in the Exelon corporate office. Meister says he is most proud of his role on the executive leadership team that transformed Commonwealth Edison from the worst nuclear operator in the United States into Exelon, a company that now is the best U.S. operator.

Meister holds a senior reactor operator certification for the Braidwood station and is a graduate of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators senior nuclear plant manager course. He also is a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security Executive Leadership Program.

He met Connie Robertson in their first class at UW-Madison and the two married in 1978. Two of their children, Carrie and John, are UW-Madison graduates, as is Carrie ’s husband Scott, while third child Craig currently attends UW-Madison. Meister enjoys spending time with family, boating, golfing, attending UW sporting events; and watching John, Scott and now Craig play in the UW Marching Band.


Brian J. Rauch

Brian J. Rauch
Vice President, Engineering, John Deere Construction
and Forestry Division
Deere and Company
Dubuque, Iowa

Growing up in a family filled with United Auto Workers members, Brian Rauch was a regular at the salvage yard and spent time working on machines and fixing cars with his father. “I don’t remember even deciding to be an engineer,” he says. “It was just assumed that I would continue my interests in college.”

A first-generation college graduate, Rauch earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UW-Platteville in 1986. He worked briefly for Caterpillar before enrolling at UW-Madison for his master’s and PhD degrees, which he earned in engineering mechanics in 1990 and 1993, respectively.

After a year with Hewlett Packard as a development engineer, Rauch joined John Deere, ultimately returning to the company’s location in his hometown of Dubuque, Iowa. He held several positions of increasing responsibility and today is vice president of engineering for the John Deere Dubuque Works Worldwide Construction and Forestry Division. In that role, he leads 600 engineers in a global organization that develops construction and forestry equipment, such as backhoes, bulldozers, skidders and forestry harvesters. Among its recent innovations, the division has introduced an industry-first high-speed dozer and two hybrid-electric loaders.

Rauch is known for his intense focus on Deere customers and enjoys developing innovations that increase Deere customers’ profits and productivity and enhance the company reputation as an industry leader. He also is committed to diversifying the Deere workforce and enjoys providing opportunities for people from many backgrounds and cultures to work and grow. In the past decade, he played an integral role in assembling a multicultural, multinational team in the U.S. engineering center and building new talent in locations such as India and China.

In addition to his engineering degrees, Rauch earned an executive MBA in 2000 from UW-Madison and international business certificate from the Dartmouth College Global 2020 Executive Program in 2005. He previously was chairman of the board of directors of Plustech Oy, a Deere company in Tampere, Finland. Rauch is a member of the UW-Madison mechanical engineering industrial advisory board and the University of Iowa engineering advisory board.

As a student, Rauch was an avid runner and still completes about a dozen races each year. He enjoys cooking and baking, hiking, travel, and spending time with his family. He and his wife, Marirose, have four children: Jennifer, Elizabeth, Peter and Joseph, whose activities include soccer, volleyball, basketball, choir and dance.


James D. Woodburn, Jr.

James D. Woodburn, Jr.
Chief Medical Officer and Director
Applied Pathways, LLC
Deephaven, Minnesota

When California native James D. Woodburn transferred from the University of California, Los Angeles to UW-Madison, he only intended to stay for a year. More than 30 years later, Woodburn is still in the Midwest, where he has become an expert in healthcare management as the president of Woodburn Health Consulting LLC, based in Deephaven, Minnesota. “There’s a certain spirit and foundation of stability in the Midwest,” he says.

Although he’s referencing the region’s environment and culture, there’s also a familial foundation: Woodburn is a fourth-generation Badger; his great-grandfather and grandfather taught here. The latter was James G. Woodburn, professor and chair of civil engineering. Woodburn’s grandmother, Donnie, earned an economics degree from UW-Madison, while his father (James D. Woodburn Sr.) and uncle (Robert Woodburn) both earned degrees in engineering.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UW-Madison in 1977, Woodburn went to medical school in hopes of becoming a better engineer. “I found a translational issue between engineering and physicians, and I went to learn the lingo,” he says. “It was never my game plan to be a doctor.”

However, Woodburn discovered a passion for emergency medicine. He received his master’s in biomedical engineering and doctor of medicine from UW-Madison in 1981 and 1984, respectively, and became the first emergency medicine fellow at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After 10 years as a practicing physician, Woodburn shifted his career to consulting to ensure plenty of quality time with his wife, Leigh, and their children, Stina and Jimmy. With a partner, he began advising high-tech companies and agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, on occupational and environmental health issues.

In 1993, Woodburn joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, where he developed managed care and web-based care strategies. The role allowed him to transition from a healthcare perspective of serving one patient at a time to developing systems that help millions nationwide. In 2005, Woodburn spearheaded the growth of MinuteClinic, a system of clinics in grocery and department stores that provides basic care in 30-minute appointments. Woodburn helped the system expand from just a handful of clinics to 250 clinics staffed by more than 2,000 nurse practitioners.

He has served on the board of directors for many medical startups. In January 2011, he became the chief medical officer at Applied Pathways, focusing on providing strategic guidance to accelerate quality improvement and consumer-centered systems change.


2011 Faculty and Staff Award Recipients

The College of Engineering honored engineering faculty and staff members for their outstanding contributions and achievements at its Appreciation Day celebration May 3, 2011.


Daniel Klingenberg

The 2011 Benjamin Smith Reynolds Award
for Excellence in Teaching —

Daniel Klingenberg
Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering

When he sees an opportunity to improve engineering education, Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Daniel Klingenberg seizes it. He has developed or co-developed six new courses, including Introduction to Colloid and Interface Science (CBE 547), a multidisciplinary elective that enrolls students from across UW-Madison; and Introduction to Society“s Engineering Grand Challenges (InterEGR 102), a course that focuses on how people from multiple engineering disciplines will help solve major societal challenges.

Focusing on topics that often confuse undergraduates, Klingenberg and Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Emeritus R. Byron Bird are writing a new textbook, Introductory Transport Phenomena, by Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot. Additionally, Klingenberg and colleagues in mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering are developing online lectures for an interdisciplinary course in fluid mechanics.

As evidence of his commitment to excellence in the classroom, he has received the Polygon Outstanding Instructor Award four times and spares no effort in helping engineering students understand even the most difficult concepts. “Transport phenomena is regarded as one of the most difficult courses, due to its rigorous math requirement and somewhat abstract ideas,” says a former student. “However, Klingenberg’s students often list it as one of their favorite classes, due to his ability to teach the subject. In research, his contextualized description of the importance of practical rheology of biomass in the production of biofuels led me and several other undergraduate researchers to feel like we were making a difference through engineering.”

Klingenberg is a strong proponent of including undergraduate students in research and regularly involves three to six undergraduates in projects related to suspension rheology, often in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory.

For years, he has served as chair of the chemical and biological engineering curriculum committee and of the college Academic Policies, Curricula and Regulations Council. He also is a member of the task force for Engineering Beyond Boundaries, a long-term college initiative to transform engineering education. “Dan is truly passionate about education and effective in turning that passion into action,” says Harvey D. Spangler Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Michael Graham.


David Foster

The 2011 Byron Bird Award
for Excellence in a Research Publication —

David E. Foster
Phil and Jean Myers Professor of Mechanical Engineering

In the early 1980s, Phil and Jean Myers Professor of Mechanical Engineering David Foster applied for a grant from the National Science Foundation to explore a type of combustion that a group of two-stroke engine researchers in Japan had stumbled across. He wanted to study the fundamental science behind this odd combustion, which he thought perhaps could be used to reduce emissions in the typical four-stroke engines used in vehicles. The grant reviewers turned down Foster’s proposal because what he was advocating seemed impossible.

Foster received the rejection letter the day after he and then-graduate student Paul Najt demonstrated in his lab that this type of combustion, called homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI), was in fact feasible in four-stroke engines. Their 1983 SAE paper, Compression-Ignited Homogeneous Charge Combustion, has ignited a slow revolution in engine research. Almost 30 years the later, the paper remains the most widely cited in HCCI R&D. “Professor Foster, through his keen insight into combustion chemistry, saw the potential for this anomalous model of combustion,” says a colleague.

Unlike spark-ignition engines, where combustion is ignited by a spark plug and proceeds as a propagating front, an HCCI engine is ignited by compressing a homogeneous mixture until it reaches a high temperature. The mixture then auto-ignites. Well-mixed, dilute fuel in an HCCI engine forms substantially less soot, carbon dioxide and nitrogen than traditional spark-ignition engines.

Foster and Najt’s paper explained, for the first time, the fundamentals behind HCCI that had been observed in two-stroke studies. They modeled the spontaneous-ignition process and performed carefully controlled four-stroke cycle engine experiments to identify the key engine design and operating variables involved in the process. They also determined the fuel composition requirements necessary to achieve HCCI combustion and indicated how these findings could be used to improve efficiency and emissions in standard engines.

HCCI research has taken off in the last decade as automotive makers seriously consider how to reduce emissions while at the same time increase fuel efficiency. Most, including General Motors, have already built and tested prototype HCCI engines and vehicles.

&8220;Professor Foster’s publication is widely recognized by both academic and industrial researchers as the seminal contribution that launched the HCCI combustion process into the forefront engine research,” say two of Foster’s Engine Research Center colleagues.

“Beyond being recognized as a stalwart publication, this work is now bearing real fruit in products that are entering the marketplace.”


Donald Schramm

The 2011 Ragnar E. Onstad Service to Society Award —
Donald R. Schramm
Faculty Associate of Engineering Professional Development

Don Schramm has a superpower that he can share with the world. It is the ability to mitigate disaster.

In 1982, Schramm cofounded the UW-Madison Disaster Management Center (UWDMC), which provides practical disaster management training to local and national governments and international organizations. As director of the UWDMC and faculty associate in the Department of Engineering Professional Development, he has secured more than $8.9 million as the principal investigator for grants to develop the UWDMC’s self-study distance education and onsite custom workshop programs. Schramm has developed and implemented training programs focused on disaster management in 135 countries, serving more than 50,000 participants and mitigating potential disaster due to natural and human made hazards. His work has been an integral part of disaster management processes for agencies including the United Nations, the ProVention Consortium, the World Food Program, the Pan American Health Organization, and many more.

Schramm has enabled engineers, planners, medical professionals and governmental leaders across the globe to save lives through better pre-event planning and post-event response to natural hazards. Colleagues say Schramm has had global impact upon reducing the human and societal tragedy caused by earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural hazards. Additionally, he has made an equally important contribution in helping engineers work effectively across cultures, countries, and continents, a critical outcome in the increasingly global nature of engineering teams and projects.

When the UWDMC was founded nearly 30 years ago, there was limited information about the theory and practice of disaster management; training and support texts were nearly nonexistent. More than 95 percent of disaster and emergency management practitioners in developing countries had no access to training. In response, Schramm and the UWDMC established a curriculum of self-study courses on a wide range of disaster and refugee management topics, with input from colleagues worldwide. While there is a long tradition of distance education at UW-Madison, its application to disaster management in developing countries was an important innovation. The self-study courses became accessible to practitioners across the globe at very low cost.

Schramm estimates he has traveled to 100 countries in the course of his work for the UWDMC. Now, more than 10 such centers have begun with some input from Wisconsin.


Irena Knezevic

The 2011 James G. Woodburn Award
for Excellence in Teaching —

Irena Knezevic
Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

“It’s not always the case that a faculty member establishing herself as a research powerhouse can also manage as much dedication to student learning. Yet Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Irena Knezevic has proved she is not only capable of excelling in both the lab and the classroom,
but that she thoroughly enjoys both roles.

Knezevic’s research credentials are extensive, especially considering she is only seven years into her academic career. She has received prestigious young faculty awards from the National Science Foundation and Air Force Office of Scientific Research and has accrued a long list of publications.

”She is the country’s leading scholar among an elite set of theorists tackling incredibly difficult predictive models and calculations in quantum electronic transport, including decoherence and relaxation in nanostructures, and heat transport at the nanoscale, says ECE Duane H. and Dorothy M. Bluemke Professor and Chair John Booske.

Knezevic applies the same level of rigor she demonstrates in her research to developing new curriculum and methods to engage students in difficult topics. For more than two decades, faculty members have struggled to revamp Physics 244, Modern Physics,
to better serve ECE students’ needs. Knezevic successfully addressed this challenge by creating ECE 235, Introduction to Solid State Electronics. In this new course, she established a clear set of learning objectives and a pedagogy that stems from keeping the student perspective closely in mind.

ECE 235 relies heavily on visual tools and a wide range of examples to help students grasp concepts. “Professor Knezevic has found innovative ways to help students visualize concepts in quantum mechanics that are generally difficult to comprehend in the classical world we experience daily,” says a teaching assistant.

Her supplemental notes for ECE 235 include more than 150 pages of detailed lecture materials, proofs and examples to help students, who notice and appreciate Knezevic’s substantial class preparations. “I was in awe of her seemingly limitless knowledge of the course material; she could derive every relationship spontaneously without using notes and answer any question with such depth it made me wonder if she slept with the textbook under her pillow,” says a former student.

While many of her students and colleagues find her abilities in the lecture hall impressive, Knezevic’s passion for teaching comes through especially well in one-on-one meetings with students. Each year, Knezevic invites a select group of undergraduate students to participate in research with her Nanoelectronics Theory Group.

“Professor Knezevic excels in making abstract, heavily theoretical concepts accessible to students,” says a colleague. “In short, I wish I would have been able to have her as an instructor when I took my first microelectronics course!”


Hussain Bahia

The 2011 Harvey Spangler Award
for Technology Enhanced Instruction —

Hussain Bahia
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

When Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Hussain Bahia considered how to use video instruction to redesign and improve a high-demand civil and environmental engineering course, Materials for Constructed Facilities (CEE 395), one of his objectives also was to retain student-instructor “face time.” At the time, this instructor-intensive course, which enrolls approximately 90 students per year, included 50-minute lectures twice each week and a weekly two-hour laboratory section that focuses on construction material behavior and standardized tests used to evaluate construction materials in practice.

With help and support from Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor and college Associate Dean Steven Cramer, Bahia modernized and refined Materials for Constructed Facilities in a way that decreases the resources needed to offer it while enhancing the student learning experience.

The result is a course that combines a series of online video lectures, lab materials and detailed video “lab tutorials,” assignments, and interactive quizzes with in-person lecture and laboratory sessions that enable students to discuss the online material in small groups and with the instructors. Web-based, access-on-demand multimedia modules and content enable the students to view — and review — course materials at their convenience and allows Bahia and other instructors to use in-class time more effectively. “The lectures were then used as discussions, where a series of questions were provided for the students to answer,” says a former student. “Professor Bahia did a great job of involving everyone through his enthusiastic attitude. Based on the answers and questions he received from the students, he was able to determine which topics needed to be discussed more thoroughly. It was clear he had a positive impact on student learning.”

The new approach has increased students’ access to course materials, increased student laboratory achievement, decreased the time students need to complete laboratory work, and enhanced learning via small-group work. “Professor Bahia created an effective model that melds pedagogy and technology without forfeiting the key in-person teaching/learning element,” says Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor and Chair Jeffrey Russell. “Student evaluations underscore his success in implementing this model. As other faculty in the college create coursework with a web-based delivery component, his work can serve as a model for others to consider in their design process.”


Todd Ninman

The 2011 Bollinger Academic Staff
Distinguished Achievement Award —

Todd Ninman
Senior Information Processing Consultant of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Senior Information Processing Consultant Todd Ninman’s service to the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering began in an era when the first mass-produced computer was manufactured by Tandy.

At the time, Ninman managed a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-11/55 mini-computer system under Professor W. Harmon Ray, who used it for research and instructional computing. The system used 256 kilobytes of RAM and stored data and programs on two 2.5 megabyte disks.

That was 1978. In the intervening 33 years, Ninman devoted his professional career to ensuring the department is at the leading edge of computer-assisted engineering. Through Ninman’s contributions, the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering was among the first in the world to institute computer-aided data acquisition and control in teaching and research laboratories. It also was a leader in providing valuable high-speed computing capabilities for students and in producing graduates who had the latest knowledge of those new capabilities. “As the person who hired Todd 33 years ago and has worked closely with him over that period, I can say that he has made the greatest impact on our department of any staff member over this period, and will be the hardest to replace when he retires,” says Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Emeritus W. Harmon Ray. “His combination of outstanding technical skills, friendly personality and willingness to help 24/7, if necessary, has endeared him to a third of a century of students, staff, faculty and department visitors.”

In particular, Ninman has purchased, installed, networked and supported computing systems that increase faculty, staff and student productivity, and enable data collection and computational research. He has designed several databases, relocated and expanded departmental computing facilities, and has helped countless faculty and students navigate the benefits and pitfalls of research computing.

His colleagues call him calm and reassuring, a gifted programmer, a problem-solver, and a rare individual who somehow, against all odds, can make everything work. “When it comes to computing, and all of what that entails, Todd is always one step ahead of us,” says Howard Curler Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Juan de Pablo. “He plans, he anticipates, and he implements his vision for computing within the department with a clarity and fortitude that are simply extraordinary.”


Renee Starks

The 2011 Classified Staff
Distinguished Achievement Award —

Renee M. Starks
Payroll and Benefits Specialist 4 in Electrical and Computer Engineering

H

aving served the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for the past 18 years, Renee Starks has become the most senior and experienced payroll and benefits specialist in the college. Her expertise, coupled with her passion for the job, makes Starks a sought-after resource for a variety of college- and campus-wide human resources initiatives.

“One of Renee’s defining characteristics is that she views herself — with our full support ” as a citizen of the entire college, not just our department,” says ECE Duane H. and Dorothy M. Bluemke Professor and Chair John Booske.

Starks has become the go-to person for training new payroll and benefits specialists, as well as a trusted voice on committees dealing with human resource policies procedures. Starks is consistently among the first to volunteer to test and pilot new software tools to keep ECE and the entire College of Engineering a step ahead of process changes.

January 2010 was a particularly busy and complex payroll period for the College of Engineering dean’s office. Starks volunteered to help, taking on the extra work in addition to her substantial ECE duties. Her efforts helped insure hundreds of people in the college were paid on time.

Starks also is extremely knowledgeable about visa processing. Her colleagues note how seriously she approaches this duty, because missing one step could mean a student or faculty member is unable to enter the country or may have to leave. “She is always looking to improve her procedures so that the margin for error is minimal,” says ECE department manager Lori Burrow. “It is not in her job description to pass this knowledge on to her peers in the college, but whenever anyone calls her, which is regularly, she assists them through this meticulous process,” Burrow adds.

Starks’ colleagues note her excellent interpersonal skills and positive, “can-do” attitude. “She fearlessly and cheerfully tackles complex situations where the rules or policies are ambiguous or not yet well established and thus require an open, adaptive and creative mind,” Booske says. “She starts with determining the interests of the faculty or staff member or student and finds the best procedure to accomplish that objective.”

Colleagues and students often seek Starks out as a source of moral support and source of advice about living in Madison. “Simply put, without her, ECE would not function as smoothly as it does,” says Burrow.