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'The Sawtooth' dedicated as Sam Wu Lecture Hall

ME department chair Roxann Engelstad and Dean Paul Peercy with members of the Wu family.
ME department chair Roxann Engelstad and Dean Paul Peercy with members of the Wu family.

Decorative initial cap On April 7, 2010, more than two dozen College of Engineering alumni and friends gathered for an emotional event in the Mechanical Engineering Building to dedicate a lecture hall in memory of the late Professor Shien-Ming (Sam) Wu.

Wu began his faculty career at UW-Madison in 1962 after earning his PhD from UW-Madison in mechanical engineering. In 1966, he established and became the first division chairman of the Production Engineering Division, where he began making his extraordinary lifelong contributions to manufacturing science and engineering. In 1971, Wu was instrumental in establishing the North American Manufacturing Research Conference, which to this day is the world’s leading forum on manufacturing research topics. In 1987, he established the influential Manufacturing Research Center at the University of Michigan, which is now named in his honor. 

Wu earned extensive recognition for his teaching and research over the years, including a Society of Manufacturing Engineers National Education Award in 1974; a University of Wisconsin Distinguished Teaching Award in 1977; and the Chiang Technology Achievement Award in 1991. The Chiang award is equivalent to the Chinese “Nobel Prize” in manufacturing engineering. Incidentally, Wu was the first person to lead a delegation of production engineers to the People’s Republic of China in 1979. 

Wu guided 120 students to their doctoral degrees, the majority of whom graduated from UW-Madison. Those engineers describe him as an unbelievably hard worker and an excellent teacher.

Attendees at the Sam Wu Lecture Hall dedication
Attendees at the Sam Wu Lecture Hall dedication

“Sam Wu was a great teacher whose mentorship of students was driven by the example he set—imagination, determination, hard work and high standards. It has been more than 35 years since I left Wisconsin to embark on my own career, yet even today, hardly a day goes by that I do not think of Sam,” says Richard DeVor (BS ’67, MS ’68, PhD ’71), who was Wu doctoral student No. 13 and is now a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. DeVor, along with Warren DeVries (BS ’71, MS ’73, PhD ’75) and Jun Ni (MS ’84, PhD ’87) led the fund-raising effort for the lecture hall.

It’s estimated that 25 percent of those in academia who teach or study manufacturing are intellectual descendents of Wu. Their ranks include members of the National Academy of Engineering, chief executive officers, and professors in manufacturing and mechanical engineering around the world.

Many of Wu’s graduate students spent their days studying in a corner of ME known as “the Sawtooth,” which is where the Shien-Ming (Sam) Wu Lecture Hall is now located.

“It’s a testament to Professor Wu’s influence that so many of his students followed in his footsteps through a career in higher education,” says Professor and Chair Roxann Engelstad. “It also shows how far Professor Wu’s legacy extends into the present and future.”




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Date last modified: Monday, 20-December-2010
Date created: 20-December-2010