For a man about to retire at the end of the fall semester, Professor Ali A. Seireg shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, he will continue to teach at the University of Florida in Gainesville in the spring semester, where he has held an endowed chair for 11 years, in addition to continuing his work with graduate students here in the ME Department.
And then there's the book contract for Gordon and Breach Publishers for seven volumes based on his 25 years of research on the human body as a machine. The first volume is due out next summer and will be used by people in sports medicine, physical education, and choreography, among others. Seireg notes that each book sold will include a computer disk.
When he has time, Seireg will continue keeping up with his international activities. He recently returned from China where he was invited by the Chinese Mechanical Engineering Society to speak at their 60th anniversary celebration. "I feel very honored that I was made their first honorary foreign member." While there, Seireg said he visited China's equivalent to Silicon Valley, the Beijing High Technology Development Center, where the government entices foreign companies to do frontier technology by giving them free tax and rent.
Ali A. Seireg
Seireg also spent time at a company owned by Beijing University. The company commercializes Chinese-language software for use in printing materials worldwide for Chinese communities. "They've made so much money, they're investing in real estate now," he said. Seireg met the Chinese vice-premier, who is a mechanical engineer and in charge of the country's economic development. China is basing its development goals on engineering and technology.
Seireg's China speech was on design development, formal ways of transferring technology from the laboratory into products. "In the old days, this was done haphazardly, but now companies bring products quickly into the market," he said. "Siemens has a program in Germany that assesses the viability of eleven new technologies in two weeks. It requires computers, of course." Seireg also spoke about the conversion of one technology into another application, an important area for the defense industry. Both of these areas, technology transfer and conversion, are of special interest. "I started looking at the importance of incorporating technology in economic models when I was chair of the Council of Engineering with the American Society of Mechanical Engineering. I called it the fourth dimension."
Born in Egypt, Professor Seireg first came to Madison to study for his PhD which he received in 1954. After a stint in industry and at Marquette University, he came to UW-Madison in 1965 as a full professor. Now, 31 years later, he has amassed an enviable record of achievement in teaching and research, books and scholarly papers on a wide spectrum of subjects, received many prestigious awards, and traveled the globe to speak at and lead international conferences.
In addition to being senior vice-president and chair of the Council of Engineering of ASME, Seireg is president of Gear Research Institute. He organized and serves as editor of the ASME hybrid journals, Computers in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering for the Human Body. His writings have dealt with automation, dynamic systems, friction lubrication and wear, design optimization, and biomedical engineering. He has supervised more than 200 graduate student dissertations. His students are doing research on such topics as the force of impact at the hoof of a walking horse and the design of stabilizers for ships and submarines that transport oil.
Seireg is unique in that he does not use grants for his research. "I believe the university should lead and do things that are important and not follow current trends in industry," he says. "The university should think into the future with an eye on reality." He realizes, however, that not everyone can do things this way. "I can get away with this and still attract grad students without offering financial support because of the freedom of inquiry I offer them. They have to pay their own way."
Seireg offers his philosophical approach to his life's work. "I
strongly believe that mechanical engineering is the most versatile of
all kinds of engineering. It overlaps many others because they all
have machines. I've never stayed with one aspect--I've geared my
interest to problems that need attention and what students are
interested in. I never forced a project on a student, and they
appreciate that when they graduate."
ME Newsletter is a periodic publication of the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Correspondence should be sent to the address below.
Editor: Gail Gawenda
Designer: Lynda Litzkow
Webmaster: Eric Gracyalny
FALL SEMESTER 1996 -- VOL. 1 / NO. 1 Contents