Professor Frank J. Fronczak has been teaching the first section of the capstone Senior Design class to be offered to students from other departments as well as mechanical engineering. In its first semester, the class has attracted students from industrial engineering, biological systems, and manufacturing systems engineering.
Fronczak described the class as a "pilot experience. The students are enthused, and we're doing assessment as we go along." He said that although only the one section of Senior Design has become interdisciplinary, the hope is to expand the cooperative arrangement to the business school, art department, human ecology, and other engineering departments.
Fronczak has been working with the Foundation Coalition and a faculty team of Professor Arne Thesen from industrial engineering, Associate Professor Dick Marleau from environmental and civil engineering, Associate Professor Fred Bradley of material science and engineering, and Jennifer Kushner from the Engineering Learning Center.
The goal of the Senior Design class, required for ME majors, is to work with a student team to develop a solution to a real-life problem, usually one presented by a member of the community. In the interdisciplinary section, one student team is tackling a problem presented by University Hospital and Clinics which has asked them to come up with ideas for an exercise device for geriatric patients. The hospital wants something that will allow patients to easily see their progress as they work the equipment to maintain or strengthen their leg muscles.
Another project team is working on an oxygen delivery system for the UW Biotron and the School of Veterinary Medicine. Researchers want to use such a system in a hyperbaric chamber to test the effectiveness of breathing pure oxygen to reduce the risk of decompression sickness, commonly known as the bends, for scuba divers, submarine crews, and astronauts. They will use sheep as test subjects.
A third student group is working with Professor Thesen to design a machine that will both fold paper and stuff envelopes in one operation. And the fourth team is addressing a request from Olbrich Gardens in Madison. Mrs. Heidi Bollinger, wife of retired Dean John Bollinger, asked for an automated system for sensing when plants in the topiary garden need water and for delivering the water to them.
More information about the course and projects can be found at the
course website: www.cae.wisc.edu/~fc_inter
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WINTER 2000 Contents