A newsletter for alumni, students, and friends of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Chad Sorenson, a December ME graduate, won first place in the sixth annual Schoof's Brainstorm competition in February with his TankMate invention. TankMate, a micro-controller-based device designed to aid farmers in applying anhydrous-ammonia to fields, earned Sorenson the $10,000 prize.
Eric Wobig, an ME senior graduating this spring, won second place and $7,000 in the Schoof's competition for his Stair Crawler, a modified two-wheel hand truck with a pair of powered tracks mounted on the back. A battery-run motor powers the tracks to assist in hefting heavy loads up stairways. Wobig also won the new $2,500 Tong Prototype Prize for his invention. The Tong prize is sponsored by the Tong Family Foundation.
ME senior Heidi Behling and her partner Kelly Stevens won the third place prize of $4,000 for their Variable Prosthesis Cushioning Device Using Electro-Rheological Fluid. Fourth-place winners of $1,000 each included ME seniors Julie Marshaus for her All-Terrain Electric Wheelchair, with its extendible wheel base and lowered center of gravity, and Brian C. Drews for his Hide-a-Ride, an apparatus for storing mountain bikes on hallway ceilings.
Sorenson, who became interested in product development when he took Professor
Frank Fronczak's Product Design class last fall, is now a graduate student in the ME department, working with Professor Fronczak. He said that he got his winning invention idea when he was helping his cousin apply anhydrous-ammonia to a farm field. To determine how much fluid was left in the tank, they had to periodically stop the tractor, walk 35 feet back to the tank, which is hitched
behind an implement, climb a ladder, and examine a small gauge. The TankMate
solves that problem with an electronic signal sent from the measuring gauge to a
monitor in the tractor. A major advantage of the TankMate device is that it is
portable so the farmer can move it from one tank to another.
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
SPRING 2000 Contents