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EPISODE: The Engineering Physics Department Newsletter
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Portrait of Michael Corradini, EP Chair

Michael L. Corradini, Chair
(Larger image)

Decorative initial cap Happy holidays to all of you. As 2010 begins, I wanted to give all of you a quick update on EP department highlights.All of us at UW-Madison and the EP department in particular have been reassessing our efforts, given the state of the Wisconsin economy and our base budget reduction of more than 5 percent. We are convinced the wisest thing we can do in these uncertain times, individually and as a community, is to keep our focus on our core mission—educating our students in their careers and as future ctitizens—by our combined efforts to create, advance and transfer new types of knowledge to serve the nation and the world.

Although no one is in a position to predict the future, it is our key priority to minimize the impact of these budget cuts on our engineering physics students, staff and faculty. Given these uncertainties that lie ahead, however, all of us in the engineering physics department are looking for opportunities to maximize our educational efforts when possible, with a goal of preserving flexibility we may need.

You may wonder how you as friends and alumni can help us. First, many of you are in key leadership positions in engineering firms, or in government research laboratories or agencies. Our most important “product” is our graduates and I would encourage you to continue to recruit and hire our students—as interns, co-ops and permanent employees. They can be the key to your future success.

Second, our students rely on the generosity of all of you to help finance their undergraduate education. Last year, because of your gifts to the EP department for student scholarships, we gave more than 70 students financial aid toward tuition.

Please give generously to the Millard Johnson EMA scholarship fund and the Max Carbon NE fund to support our students. You can donate securely online to these funds at These gifts enable top-notch students to attend UW-Madison, to remain in school, and to devote their time and mental energy to excelling in their study of engineering.

Finally, I’ve included some notable highlights from our faculty and staff over 2009. These notes are just a handful of the many events that have occurred this year.

I’m always glad to meet with any of you when I am in your community or when you return to the university for campus activities, sporting events, Engineers’ Day or other events.

Michael L. Corradini, Chair
147 Engineering Research Building, 1500 Engineering Dr., Madison, WI 53706-1687
Tel: 608/263-1646 - Fax: 608/263-7451


Student team with "The Litter Fitter," a human-powered trash compactorStudent team with "The Ro-Bo Rack," a space-saving mechanical bowling-ball rackTeam with "The Great Escape," an emergency escape system that enables handicapped users to navigate steps independently

On Dec. 14, engineering mechanics seniors competed in the second annual EMA Senior Design Competition. Supported through generous gifts from alumni, friends and industry, the contest rewards the students for developing unique products, excellent prototypes, complete business plans and thorough presentations of their ideas. The Litter Fitter, a human-powered trash compactor, earned first prize and $2,500. The Ro-Bo Rack, a space-saving mechanical bowling-ball rack, earned second prize and $1,000. The Great Escape, an emergency escape system that enables handicapped users to navigate steps independently, received honorable mention and $500. Learn more about the competition at

(Photos: Robert Hemke)


Improved On October 29, Steenbock Professor Ray Fonck spoke to members of the U.S. House of Representatives Science and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment about the U.S. fusion energy sciences program. In his testimony, Fonck provided an overview of the program, which he called successful but yet unable to resolve critical issues key to practical fusion energy. He noted that, during construction of an international fusion burning plasma facility (ITER), the United States should increasingly focus on fusion nuclear science and technology issues and, as the construction winds down, the United States should establish a national fusion test facility that would position the country as a world leader in fusion energy nuclear sciences and technologies. Read a press release about the hearing at

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) signed an exclusive license agreement with spin-off company Echometrix, which develops ultrasound technology that more quickly, conveniently and effectively evaluates conditions such as torn tendons or tissue inflammation. Professor Ray Vanderby and colleagues Hirohito Kobayashi and Barbara Israel founded Echometrix. The agreement with WARF provides Echometrix the rights to make, use and sell ultrasound software and devices based on its innovative technology in the United States, Europe and Japan.

The Department of Energy awarded $300,000 to a team led by Associate Professor Todd Allen to expand campus advanced nuclear technology research facilities. Undergrads Stuart Slattery and Amanda Lang also received $5,000 scholarships and graduate students Laura Jamison and Matt Gidden received fellowships of $50,000/year for three years.

Allen, Distinguished Research Professor Kumar Sridharan and Materials Science and Engineering Professor Sindo Kou received Nuclear Regulatory Commission Nuclear Education Grant Program funding to develop a comprehensive course consisting of radiation damage, corrosion and welding modules, as those things relate to nuclear reactors. The group hopes to obtain course status so that people from industry and other universities can take it for certification or credit.

Portions of “Better living through nuclear power,” a story in the web-based magazine Today’s Science for high school students, featured Allen and Sridharan. In Q&A format, the two talked about what piqued their interest in nuclear engineering and discuss their research, public misconceptions of nuclear energy, and the future of energy in the United States.

"A nuclear power plant with a view: How do energy companies decide where to build new reactors,” a July 21 blog post on, cited Wisconsin Distinguished Professor Mike Corradini as one of the post references. Read the post at

The National Science Foundation awarded a UW-Madison team, including Professor Wendy Crone, $200,000 to develop a nanotechnology certificate program for engineering undergraduates. The certificate will advance undergraduates’ knowledge and understanding in nanoscale science, engineering and technology (NSET) and establish a formal pathway through which students can obtain fundamental understanding of concepts critical to nano-technology. The cross-disciplinary team will develop two new courses and integrate NSET components into several existing courses.

Under advisers Frederick Elder and Irving Langmuir Professor Noah Hershkowitz, a UW-Madison team of undergraduates earned first place in the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) student design competition. Six U.S. teams and one from South Africa submitted designs related to human survival on extraterrestrial bodies. The UW-Madison students submitted “Major Tom: Lunar cargo transport,” a design for a continuous unmanned transportation system that will ship cargo to the moon to support construction of a lunar base. The students will present their design in Hilo, Hawaii, February 10-14. PISCES is an international research and education center located at the University of Hawaii and dedicated to developing technologies needed to sustain life on the moon.

A July 11 story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review quoted Grainger Professor Gerald Kulcinski. In the story, “Amateur ‘fusioneers’ work to sustain energy-creating process,” Kulcinski talked about inertial electrostatic confinement fusion, a method of producing fusion he and his students are studying. He estimates that, within a year, scientists will reach the fusion “break-even” point. Read the story at

Adjunct Professor Harrison Schmitt received media attention—much of which was related to the Apollo 11 40th anniversary and/or discussions of helium-3 fusion and research at
UW-Madison—throughout late June and early July. Among the pieces are “From the Moon to Mars,” in the July issue of Scientific American; the June 29 Wall Street Journal lead letter to the editor; “Five best books on space,” in the July 18 Wall Street Journal; and On Point, a National Public Radio program July 16 and NPR’s Science Friday July 17. Schmitt also participated in three major climate science conferences sponsored by the Heartland Institute.

Senior Stuart Slattery earned first place in the computational science division of the second annual Science and Energy Research Challenge, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. Slattery spent his summer working with Idaho National Laboratory researcher Dave Nigg to improve the accuracy of radiation transport computations used for dosimetry modeling in neutron-based radiotherapy for cancer. His work will help improve radiation dose calculations for a new neutron beam constructed at the University of Missouri research reactor.



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Date last modified: Friday, 8-January-2010
Date created: 8-January-2009




Front cover of the "Greetings from the Chair" letter