A newsletter for alumni, students, and friends of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Professor Tim Osswald, one of three ME faculty in the Polymer Processing Research Group, has high hopes that the university will some day soon offer a BS degree in polymers. "We now have all the courses that would be needed to get a bachelor's degree through the four departments that are part of the Rheology Research Center: Mechanical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry, and Engineering Physics." He is especially optimistic since the MS program was begun two years ago.
Osswald is one of three ME faculty in the polymer group that also includes Professor A. Giacomin and newly-hired Assistant Professor Lih-Sheng Turng. The three members make the group the largest such polymer group with a mechanical engineering department in the country. "Ours is the oldest ME department to include plastics and now is the first to have three faculty in polymers. Now we will cover every facet in polymers," Osswald said.
Courses in plastics have been a part of the ME curriculum since 1946 when now-Emeritus Professor Ronald L. Daggett began teaching a technical elective called Plastics and Plastics Processing. This class was taught every year until it just recently evolved into two separate senior electives, Introduction to Polymer Processing and Engineering Design with Polymers. Almost 150 students take each course every year, many of them via distance education using videotapes, e-mail, and facsimile. Four ME polymer courses are available on tape, according to Osswald, in addition to dozens of other polymer courses offered from the UW.
ME students are introduced to polymers in a required general manufacturing course. Students spend five weeks learning about plastics manufacturing in the classroom and the lab where they have an opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment for injection molding, thermoforming, blow molding, film blowing, and compression molding.
In their research, the faculty focus on all aspects of polymer processing, including theoretical as well as applied areas. Professor Giacomin's primary areas of study are the rheology of polymer melts, as well as pipe extrusion and coating processes. Osswald studies modeling of composites processing, mixing of polymer blends, and modeling extrusion processes. Turng does research in injection molding. As a group, they have over a dozen graduate students, and their work is funded by such entities as the National Science Foundation, the Budd Company, Square D, DuPont, Kimberly-Clark, and 3M.
Joining with their colleagues in the other UW departments as part of the
Rheology Research Center, Giacomin, Osswald, and Turng are part of the reason
that Osswald calls Madison a "cradle of modern rheology." The center is known
world-wide for its Friday seminars that attract the leading names in rheology
and polymer processing. Well-known people associated with the center include
Professor R. Bird, who made transport phenomena what it is today, the basis for a lot of polymer engineering; Professor John Ferry who did pioneering research on the relaxation of polymers; and Professor Arthur Lodge who is known for the early work on polymer and rubber visco-elasticity.
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