VISION 2000: College of Engineering 1995 Annual ReportHR

When an alumni survey found that tools taught in NEEP's required computer classes were not applicable to industry, the department created two new courses: Engineering Problem Solving I and II. These sophomore and junior classes replaced two formerly required courses which used procedural programming for problem solving. The new classes stress equation solving, and incorporate programs with many built-in functions that are useful to engineers. "Now more time is spent on advanced topics such as differential equations, because there is less time spent on teaching programming," explains Associate Professor James P. Blanchard, who developed the courses.

Using new etching tools to produce better, smaller scale semiconductor devices will ultimately result in computers with more powerful memories. At the Center for Plasma-Aided Manufacturing, Professor Noah Hershkowitz and his colleagues are finding ways to employ plasmas in semiconductor fabrication. (Plasma etching is the only way to etch semiconductor features smaller than one micron.) The researchers are developing and testing three new types of etching tools, each based on different physical principles, for the high-density/low-pressure plasma etching process. They've learned that etching characteristics may depend more on tool geometry and the chemistry that takes place on tool wall materials than on the physics of the plasma production.

Associate Professor Douglass L. Henderson has been assisting Argonne National Laboratory with the disposal of high-level, radioactive waste from its Experimental Breeder Reactor (EBR-II), which is being shut down after 30 years of operation. The blanket subassemblies surrounding the EBR-II reactor have accumulated small amounts of actinide elements. Through Non-Destructive Assay (NDA), the actinide elemental concentrations must be determined before the subassemblies are placed in a long-term storage facility. Henderson is assisting Argonne with the neutronics modeling of the NDA detection device, and with improving software for the detector system. This detection system can be used to determine the fissile content of other high-level, radioactive waste material destined for disposal.

As a result of Assistant Professor John M. Pfotenhauer's research, industries will be able to rest easier during power failures. He is improving the efficiency of a superconducting magnet system which stores energy, supplying it during power glitches. This technology has an advantage over batteries in that it takes up less space, there is no chemical leakage, and the stored energy can be removed and replaced without any degradation of power. Pfotenhauer's work parallels that of Superconductivity, Inc., and the two entities have been sharing information. Pfotenhauer is focusing on developing a current lead that will reduce required refrigeration power; improving cryocooler design technology; and building high-temperature super-conducting magnets that operate above liquid helium temperatures.

Copyright © 1995 University System Board of Regents

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Date last modified: Wednesday, 29-Nov-1995 12:00:00 CST
Date created: 29-Nov-1995

1995 Annual Report Contents