www.engr.wisc.edu/ep College of EngineeringThe University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Engineering Physics Nuclear Engineering / Engineering Physics / Engineering Mechanics & Astronautics


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Message from the chair

Michael L. Corradini

Michael L. Corradini (15K JPG)

Reflections on the reactor

UW-Madison Nuclear Reactor Director Bob Agasie with Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials

Reactor Director Bob Agasie (right) talks about the reactor during Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials' recent visit. (26K JPG)

As we enter a new year at UW-Madison and in our Department of Engineering Physics, we have renewed our efforts in improving the education of our students in Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics and Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics in a number of ways.

Several of our faculty and staff have volunteered to participate in the fall semester freshman course, Introduction to Engineering (EPD 160 ), which allows entering pre-engineering students a chance to "discover engineering by doing engineering" in focused team-based design projects over the semester. Last year, about one-quarter of the EPD 160 class worked on a project to design an energy exhibit for the Madison Children's Museum. It is our belief that if we can provide freshmen with access to our faculty, staff and students, as well as appreciate some of the technical aspects of our majors, they will be better able to understand how they fit into engineering as a future career.

We have also made a concerted effort to increase the number of undergraduates in nuclear engineering. It is our belief that there will be a renewed interest in nuclear power and there are clear signs in the growing interest in nuclear science and engineering as applied to medicine and health. To provide freshmen with an introduction to these topics, we have redesigned our course, Survey of Nuclear Engineering (NE (NEEP) 231 ), and have begun to offer it in the spring of each academic year. The course provides an overview of the three areas of nuclear engineering with active research and development: nuclear fission systems, fusion and plasma processing, and radiation science for health and industry. This course has been a success with more than 35 students this spring. In fact, we have proposed to develop a web-based version of the course with assistance from the Department of Energy (DOE). This would be offered nationally to any student interested in nuclear engineering.

Another important area for education of our undergraduates is their capstone design experience. Our engineering mechanics major has a two-course series with design projects focused on aeronautics, astronautics and solid mechanics applications. These capstone courses are now under revision to integrate project design, building and testing over the two-semester course sequence. With the help of alumni gifts and college instructional technology funds, we have been able to open a laboratory where prototypes of these designs (or components of them) can be fabricated and tested. We have also been able to purchase laptop computers for each design team, for their use during the year in design calculations as well as report writing. In addition, for the nuclear engineering design course, we are working with the nuclear industry and DOE national laboratory researchers (Argonne and Idaho Engineering labs) to identify design projects that are relevant to the new-term deployment of next-generation nuclear power plants.

We are also very pleased to announce that one of our distinguished alumni, Thomas Plunkett (MSNE '62), has established an endowment for undergraduate scholarships. His gift will fund four full-tuition undergraduate scholarships for juniors and seniors in the department's nuclear engineering degree program. His generosity is deeply appreciated and will allow us to provide needed scholarship funds for outstanding students interested in a career in the nuclear power industry.

One of the most encouraging signs for our department is the strong growth in the number of our undergraduate majors. This year we will have almost 30 graduates with a BS in EM, EMA or NE, an increase of almost 100 percent from a few years ago. In addition, we have had more than 50 freshmen enter our department in 2002. This is clearly the most important sign of the interest and vitality in our department. In the coming newsletters, I hope to tell you of the new and exciting research activities at the graduate level.

Michael L. Corradini
147 Engineering Research Building
1500 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1687

Tel: 608/263-1646
Fax: 608/263-7451
E-mail: ep@engr.wisc.edu


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Date last modified: Wednesday, 22-May-2002 17:26:00 CDT
Date created: 22-May-2002