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


Fall / Winter 2007-2008
Featured articles

Shock tube studies bring astronomical understanding light years closer

Uncertainty models improve system design

Videos introduce UW-Madison engineering experts to youth worldwide

Students present senior design research at AIAA conference

A nuclear family: ANS student chapter builds community

Regular Features

Message from the chair

Faculty & Staff News

Alumni News

Student News


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Do you have a new job, address, spouse or child? Please let us know what good things are happening with your lives and careers and we will share the news with EP alumni in this column.

Send your address changes, alumni news or questions to:
EP Alumni News, 147 Engineering Research Building, 1500 Engineering Dr., Madison, WI 53706; or E-mail them to

The Fusion Technology Institute maintains a web-based list of fusion alumni and their current employers; you can access it at You also can send in updates through that webpage.

Edwin A. McKinnon

Edwin McKinnon
(Larger image)

2007 Distinguished Achievement Award recipient

Decorative initial cap Edwin A. McKinnon was a lifelong resident of Nevada and a lecturer at the state university in Reno when he broadened his search for graduate schools to include a dozen universities in the East. McKinnon accepted a teaching assistantship at UW-Madison because of its strong program in solid mech-anics. In 1972, he completed his doctoral degree in engineering mechanics with the guidance of his major professor and mentor, Bela Sandor.

McKinnon then accepted a position as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. For the next three years, he guided a number of graduate students through their thesis work, authored eight published articles, and was recognized for outstanding teaching

He went on to spend most of his career working for two metallurgical companies in southern Pennsylvania and on the East Coast. In the 1980s, while at the tooling components company Kennametal, he helped build, staff and manage a new carbide powder manufacturing facility in Henderson, North Carolina—an experience he calls “a highlight of my career.”

In 1993, McKinnon joined the General Carbide Corporation, where he became vice president of technology. General Carbide manufactures carbide components used for tools and dies and tool-cutting industries, and also provides components to concrete and steel industries.

Prior to McKinnon’s retirement in 2005, the Cemented Carbide Producers Association recognized him for more than 30 years of service to the carbide industry.

He and his wife, Nancy, have two daughters. Kristin Friedline, 31, is a nurse anesthetist in Virginia. Jill Mando, 27, works in sales and marketing in the beverage industry in Pennsylvania. She is the mother of McKinnon’s 2-year-old grandson, Ty Albert—a popular subject for one of McKinnon’s hobbies: photography.

McKinnon is a church elder at the Latrobe Presbyterian Church. He also has spent the last two years studying German. He and Nancy, who recently retired from teaching high school German and journalism, plan to spend more time traveling. In September, they spent two weeks in Germany and Austria.

A Sandia National Laboratories researcher, Ben Cipiti (MS ’03, PhD ’04) is the author of The Energy Construct, a book that proposes an energy plan that could make a dramatic difference in pollution emission and enable the United States to achieve a clean, domestic and economic energy future.

Wayne Houlberg (BS ’70, MS ’72, PhD ‘77) retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in August and accepted the position of chief scientist for integrated modeling in the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) fusion science and technology division in Cadrache, France.

Citing trailblazing discoveries that have produced more complete and useful understanding of human development and diseases, Time magazine has included epigenetics pioneer Randy Jirtle (BS ’70) among nominees for the Time 2007 Person of the Year. Jirtle is director of the Laboratory of Epigenetics and Imprinting at Duke University and a professor of radiation oncology at Duke. In addition, a July episode of the public television program NOVA ScienceNow, as well as related web content, included Jirtle.

Interim dean of the Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science and founding member of the school’s Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Gerald Navratil (MS ’74, PhD ’76) is among a group of researchers who received the 2007 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research from the American Physical Society. The group, which received the award at the APS Division of Plasma Physics meeting in November, conducted experiments that demonstrated stabilization of the resistive wall mode and sustained operation of a tokamak above the conventional free boundary stability limit.


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Date last modified: Friday, 4-January-2008 11:49:00 CDT
Date created: 4-January-2008