Darryl Thelen developed his interest for things mechanical while growing up on the family farm in Michigan. Tractors proved to be part of his training.
"I had a lot of experience with equipment and motors and repairs," he said.
Thelen attended Michigan State University, getting a bachelor's of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1987. He then moved on to the University of Michigan, getting master's (1988) and doctoral (1992) degrees in mechanical engineering.
From there he spent six years at Hope College, a liberal arts college in Michigan, where he taught engineering and led undergraduate research projects. But he found himself growing more interested in the research side of the field, and subsequently took a research position with the Biomechanical Engineering Division at Stanford University. He joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering this fall.
Thelen's research interests focus on using theoretical and experimental techniques to study the muscular coordination of movement and clinical problems surrounding movement brought on by aging, injury and disease. He plans to work with members of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the college's Center on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology.
He was drawn to UW-Madison in part because of the strong reputation of its School of Medicine, and the opportunityto apply his engineering interests in the field of medicine.
"Working between engineering and medicine makes for a lot of interesting collaborations," he said. "I truly enjoy the applied nature of engineering and the challenge of using engineering tools to bring a different perspective to clinical problems."
Thelen is married and has three sons, and enjoys running and cycling.
Scott Sanders took a couple of detours from his Wisconsin roots before returning to take a position as assistant professor in the mechanical engineering department.
Sanders grew up in the small town of Iola, in central Wisconsin, perhaps best known for its summer vintage car show. But Sanders left Wisconsin and the cars of Iola to study at Valparaiso University in Indiana, where he graduated in 1997. He then ventured to the West Coast, where he received a master's degree (1998) and doctorate (2001) in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.
But Sanders and his wife, who grew up in Northern Illinois, wanted to return to the Midwest, and he jumped at the chance to join the department and its Engine Research Center. Sanders joined the department in November 2001.
His research interest is in optical sensors. Sanders develops sensors based on absorption spectroscopy and applies them to measure gas properties in a variety of environments. A major focus is on using sensors to evaluate and improve the performance of engines. He had been using them to study pulse-detonation engines at Stanford, and Sanders welcomed the opportunity to apply the sensors to standard piston engines in the ERC.
"A major goal has been to develop and apply sensors for piston engines," Sanders said. "Because piston engines are ubiquitous in our society, there's tremendous potential for payoff here. The long history of piston engine expertise in the ERC has enabled me to make many sensing advances here in this first year."
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