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ME: The Mechanical Engineering Department Newsletter


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Alumna sets record for flight around the world

Granular flow simulations earn Dan Negrut NSF CAREER award

Meet the 2009 Mechanical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board

Popular Science cites WIsconsin inventor among nation's best

Clean sweep for UW snowmobile team

ME Symposium: Highlighting undergraduate research

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Patrick Farrell

Patrick Farrell
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Farrell takes Lehigh University post

Patrick V. Farrell, former UW-Madison provost and professor of mechanical engineering, was named Lehigh University provost and vice president of academic affairs. Lehigh is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Farrell will begin his new position on July 24.

As Lehigh provost, Farrell will serve as the university chief academic officer. Among his responsibilities are leading efforts to attract, recruit and retain highly talented individuals. He also will play a central role in working to ensure the success of institutional goals over the next decade.

A UW-Madison mechanical engineering faculty member since 1982, Farrell became the College of Engineering associate dean for academic affairs in 2001. He was named engineering executive associate dean in 2005 and served as UW-Madison provost from 2006 to December 2008.

“Pat’s vision, collaborative approach, and academic and administrative leadership helped shape the future of both the College of Engineering and the university,” says College of Engineering Dean Paul S. Peercy. “We will miss his sound judgment and quick wit, and we wish him well in his new position.”

One of Farrell’s priorities as UW-Madison provost was to develop a more strategic vision for the campus. To that end, he managed the university’s two-year reaccreditation self-study initiative, which included input from thousands of people on and off campus, and the resulting work on a strategic framework for the university’s next decade.

Farrell’s other accomplishments include leading the complex effort to define the “Wisconsin Experience” as a recognized set of learning outcomes expected of all UW-Madison graduates. He also served as a strong advocate for student access and affordability, both as a policy advocate and by working personally with individual and corporate donors.

In engineering, Farrell’s research focuses on fluid mechanics, combustion and optical methods as they relate to engine design and function. He was part of the original team that developed an innovative hands-on design course for freshman engineers, and is a fellow of the UW-Madison Teaching Academy.

Farrell earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan, his master’s degree at the University of California-Berkeley and his doctorate at the University of Michigan, all in mechanical engineering.

Jaal Ghandhi

Jaal Ghandhi
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Ghandhi named Grainger Professor of Sustainable Energy

Professor Jaal B. Ghandhi has been named the first Grainger Professor of Sustainable Energy. The professorship was established by the Grainger Foundation of Skokie, Illinois, which is the charitable arm of Grainger Inc. “As you can imagine, I am very excited and humbled to be given this title and to be recognized in such a way by the university,” Ghandhi says. “It is a great honor and is especially poignant for me because I grew up in a family of engineers and the Grainger catalog was ever-present.”

Ghandhi is interested in internal combustion engines, turbulent mixing and combustion, optical diagnostics and piston ring tribology. His work focuses on understanding the physics of combustion to allow for new engine developments. He is a member of the Engine Research Center, the Society of Automotive Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

The Society of Automotive Engineers International honored Faculty Associate Glenn Bower in April with the 2008 Faculty Advisors Award. The award comes with a travel stipend that Bower will use to attend the Small Engine Technology conference in Malaysia, where he will present his team’s work on an electric snowmobile.

On campus in May, Bower also received a 2009 Polygon Engineering Council teaching award. The award is chosen by engineering undergraduates.

A March 5 story in the Wisconsin State Journal featured Professor Emeritus Kenneth Ragland. Ragland talked about the differences between biomass and coal as energy sources. “Simply put, it takes about twice as much biomass to replace an equivalent weight of coal,” he said. He also pointed out the benefits of burning biomass, such as no impurities or net carbon dioxide release. Read the full Q&A at

To understand friction on a very small scale, a team of UW-Madison engineers, including Assistant Professor Kevin Turner, had to think big. At the nanoscale, friction can wreak havoc on tiny devices made from only a small number of atoms or molecules. Yet, researchers have trouble describing friction at such small scales because existing theories are not consistent with how nanomaterials actually behave.

Through computer simulations, the group demonstrated that friction at the atomic level behaves similarly to friction generated between large objects. The simulations showed that, at the nanoscale, materials in contact behave more like large, rough objects rubbing against each other, rather than as two perfectly smooth surfaces, as was previously imagined.

The team, which was led by Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Izabela Szlufarska, published its findings in the February 26 issue of the journal Nature and a variety of news outlets carried coverage of the research.




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Date last modified: Monday, 3-August-2009
Date created: 3-August-2009



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