College of Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison
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EPISODE: The Engineering Physics Department Newsletter


Spring/Summer 2003
Featured articles

Taming turbulence: Understanding the equations

Exploiting friction can make MEMS work

New boundaries: Experiments verify ion behavior in plasmas

Engineers develop new prostate-cancer treatment plan

Conference to address state energy crisis

Regular Features

Message from the chair

Department news

New faculty: Joseph Bisognano and Dennis Whyte

Student news


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Portrait of Rob Carpick

Michael L. Corradini, Chair
(16K JPG)

Decorative initial cap T lmost eight years ago, the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics merged with the Department of Engineering Mechanics & Astronautics. This successful departmental merger, unique in its own right, signaled a beginning of a new era for both departments’ faculty. It also continued an evolutionary path for the nuclear engineering pro-gram and degree and this summer, we are pleased to celebrate the beginning of the nuclear engineering program almost a half-century ago.

In the mid-1950s, Dean Kurt F. Wendt held meetings regarding establishing an educational program in nuclear engineering. Instigated by discussions between Dean Wendt and Dean Everett at the University of Illinois in 1954, an ad-hoc nuclear engineering committee was formed with UW engineering Professors Barker, Bird, Higgins, Rohlich, Roark, Uyehara and Weber as members. In 1955, the committee examined the report of Professor Frank Myers, chair of physics at Lehigh University and a consultant for Argonne National Lab, which suggested a complete educational program structure and cost in nuclear science and engineering. This committee and its interest in the discipline signaled the birth of nuclear engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The activity in nuclear engineering in the college then proceeded quickly:

1957Max Carbon was hired as a faculty member in mechanical engineering and was tasked with forming the program.

1958—The College of Engineering offered a master’s of science in nuclear engineering as a committee degree.

1960—The UW Nuclear Research Reactor was built and given a 40-year license by the Atomic Energy Commission

1962—A doctoral degree was offered in both nuclear engineering and in the College of Engineering.

1963—The Department of Nuclear Engineering was officially formed and a bachelor’s of science in nuclear engineering was offered with a focus in fission-reactor engineering.

Thus, in the decade between 1954 and 1963, the College of Engineering joined the ranks of MIT, University of Michigan and others offering this unique degree focused on the microscopic physical phenomena in the nucleus of the atom and how engineering devices could be designed and built using these principles for power production and medical applications. Shortly thereafter, the Medical School began a program in medical physics under the leadership of Professor John Cameron, involving nuclear science applications in medical research and treatment.

Since that first decade, the department has aggressively expanded its vision of what nuclear science and engineering encompasses. In the 1960s, our faculty began graduate research and education in plasma physics and fusion, particle accelerators, radiation damage of materials, and super-conductivity and cryogenics. Professor Carbon, a unique set of faculty on the college nuclear engineering committee, and the new faculty in the department—Professors Boom, El-Wakil, Forsen, Maynard and Vogelsang and Reactor Director Richard Cashwell—led the department in this broad vision and scope. This pursuit of leading-edge research problems with impact in the engineering community has allowed the program to enjoy a top-notch ranking during its 40-year history.

To celebrate the beginning of the master’s degree in 1958 and the undergrad degree and department in 1963, we will host a special celebration during Engineers’ Day on Oct. 17 and 18, 2003. It will include lunch, lab tours and dinner on Friday as well as a Saturday-morning brunch and special video presentation on the department’s history before the UW-Purdue football game. Please E-mail me soon if you’d like more information:

Michael L. Corradini, Chair

147 Engineering Research Building
1500 Engineering Dr.
Madison, WI 53706-1687

Tel: 608/263-1646
Fax: 608/263-7451


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Date last modified: Monday, 16-July-2003 15:43:00 CDT
Date created: 14-July-2003