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EPISODE: The Engineering Physics Department Newsletter


Fall / Winter 2007-2008
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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

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UW-Madison No. 2 in U.S. research

Across all academic fields, UW-Madison conducted more than $900 million worth of research in fiscal year 2006, according to new statistics released by the National Science Foundation. With science and engineering research expenditures totaling $832 million, UW-Madison has claimed the No. 2 spot, climbing from No. 3 in the country and surpassing the combined campuses of the University of Michigan, which was No. 2 in fiscal year 2005.

Assistant Professor Todd Allen, Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professors Izabela Szlufarska and Dane Morgan, and EP Research Professor Kumar Sridharan, Associate Scientist Mark Anderson and Assistant Scientist Lizhen Tan have received approximately $890,000 from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to study the emissivity of metallic structures and fission product transport in TRISO (tristructural isotropic) fuels—both in relation to advanced very-high-temperature nuclear reactor designs. The researchers hope to determine the role of emissivity on decay heat transfer from plant structures via radiative heat loss and to predict the transport of noble and metallic fission products through the TRISO fuel form.

Professor Fabian Waleffe (also mathematics), mathematics graduate student Jue Wang and postdoctoral researcher John Gibson (of Georgia Tech University) have published clear computational evidence that a newly discovered class of 3-D unstable traveling wave solutions of the Navier-Stokes equations scale like the inverse of the Reynolds number for large Reynolds numbers. That scaling is consistent with recent experiments by a British group, which showed that the smallest amplitude perturbation necessary to trigger turbulence in a fluid flowing down a pipe also scaled like the inverse of the Reynolds number. Waleffe and colleagues show that the 3-D unstable states have only one mode of instability, and demonstrate that these states are the “backbone” of a boundary separating turbulent and laminar flows. Their results imply that those 3-D unstable states control the transition to turbulence; the discovery may lead to new ways to control transition to turbulence for various engineering applications. The group’s paper appeared in the May 18 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.

Professor Joseph Bisognano, director of the UW-Madison Synchrotron Radiation Center, became chair of the American Physical Society Division of Physics of Beams in June. Established in 1985, the objective of the division is to advance and diffuse knowledge regarding the nature and behavior of beams and instruments for their production and use. He was installed at the 2007 Particle Accelerator Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 25-29.

COE faculty among the most productive researchers in nation

College of Engineering faculty are among the most productive in the nation, according to the 2007 Chronicle of Higher Education Research University Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index. The index compiles overall institutional rankings for 164,843 faculty at 375 PhD granting universities. The productivity of each faculty member is measured, although the data are aggregated before being published. Faculty members can be judged on as many as five factors, depending on the most important variables in the given discipline: books published; journal publications; citations of journal articles; federal-grant dollars awarded; and honors and awards. For each discipline, Academic Analytics assigns a weight to each variable. As a discipline, UW-Madison engineering mechanics ranked fifth and nuclear engineering ranked second.



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