John J. Uicker, Jr. has retired after 40 years on the mechanical engineering department faculty. He earned his BS in mechanical engineering at the University of Detroit and his MS and PhD in mechanical engineering at Northwestern University.
Since joining the College of Engineering faculty in 1967, Uicker has been instrumental in establishing new directions of study. Early in his career, he helped the mechanical engineering department acquire access to teaching computers, which was the beginning of Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) Center, a service now used by the entire College. When CAE effectively started in 1982, Uicker served as the first director. He also was involved in establishing the Manufacturing Systems Engineering (MSE) masters degree program and the Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics (WCSAR) at UW-Madison.
However, Uicker’s influence extends beyond the UW-Madison campus. He co-authored, with J.E. Shilgley of the University of Michigan, the textbook Theory of Machines and Mechanisms, recognized globally as the leading text on the subject. He also served as editor-in-chief of the international journal Mechanism and Machine Theory.
Uicker’s research program has developed an extensive computer software system called the Integrated Mechanisms Program (IMP) for the kinematic, static, and dynamic simulation of rigid body mechanical systems such as robots and automotive suspensions. Hundreds of academic institutions and industry companies now use IMP. Uicker also developed several geometric modeling software systems that benefit industry, including one to simulate solidification in metal castings and one to determine possible collisions between moving objects.
Among his many honors, Uicker is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and has been awarded the ASME Mechanisms and Robotics award, and awarded twice by ASME for historically significant publications. He received the 1985 Byron Bird Award for excellence in a research publication and the 1977 Pi Tau Sigma teacher of the year award.
Uicker feels that what has kept him motivated over his forty years is the ever increasing level of talent shown by the undergraduate students coming to the Madison campus for their degrees..
The Master of Engineering in Engine Systems program graduated its first class of 10 students in May. The program serves mid-career professionals seeking a broad knowledge of engines, using an online format that allows students to continue their careers while earning the degree. Six of the 10 graduates are from Wisconsin-based companies, such as Harley Davidson, Briggs & Stratton and Mercury Marine. You can read more at www.engr.wisc.edu/news/headlines/2007/May17.html.
The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a three-year, $340,000 grant to Professor Lih-Sheng (Tom) Turng and UW-Milwaukee Assistant Professor Shaoqin (Sarah) Gong to investigate cleaner manufacturing techniques for biopolymers. “High-performance microcellular components made of sustainable bio-based polymer composites and produced via an environmentally benign injection molding process” aims to develop technology, commercial applications and life-cycle assessments for high-performance microcellular composites that use sustainable bio-based materials via an environmentally benign manufacturing process. This project will serve to conserve energy and natural resources, and reduce waste and toxic substance production.
Assistant Professor Krishnan Suresh has received a three-year, $222,417 grant from the National Science Foundation for research on interactive virtual assembly. In collaboration with Professor Satyandra Gupta from the University of Maryland, College Park, Suresh will study interactive virtual assembly of complex engineering systems, with the primary objective of eliminating expensive prototyping and training.
Professor John Moskwa has joined the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Fuel Economy of Light Duty Vehicles. The NRC is the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, which advise Congress and the president on science- and technology- related matters. Moskwa’s contributions to the NRC committee will focus on engine and vehicle system simulation.
Professor Vadim Shapiro was recently named a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Shapiro is widely recognized for his research into foundational issues in computer-aided engineering and mechanical design automation, including developing geometric modeling representations that overcome critical bottlenecks in computer-aided design technology. His work in analysis and synthesis has led to a new generation of languages, software tools and advances in design automation with extension to the emerging areas of biotechnology, information technology, cyber-infrastructure, and cyber-engineering.
Assistant Professor Dan Negrut received a three-year, $201,000 award from the National Science Foundation to study methods for modeling and simulation of complex mechanical systems. “Simulation of multibody dynamics: Leveraging new numerical methods and multiprocessor capabilities” will investigate numerical integration methods for simulation of complex multibody systems dynamics-leveraging entry-level high-performance parallel computing hardware. The research is aimed at ground-vehicle simulation and multibody dynamics problems characterized by very large numbers of frictional contacts, such as granular flow simulation.