Fostering growth in both current and emerging strategic research areas is an important element in the college's strategic plan. For example, the Engine Research Center, established by the Army Research Office in 1986 and renewed in 1992, continues to grow as a leader in the field. In the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, ergonomics research is now a rapidly expanding area which interests a wide segment of both business and industry.
ERGONOMICS AT WORK
By measuring the ergonomic characteristics of a computer workstation, industrial engineers determine factors that affect an employee's health and a company's productivity. Shown here, Industrial and Systems Engineering Associate Professor Pascale Carayon measures the distance from a computer screen to the eyes of graduate student Marla Haims
The women are involved in a workplace ergonomic study for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. As part of their ongoing project, they conduct ergonomic evaluations and assess work conditions such as keyboard height, screen angles and chair comfort levels. Other data-collection methods include interviewing employees, ergonomic surveys and videotaping. Video cameras help evaluate factors such as posture and hand positions. A large part of their research, says Carayon, is evaluating the effectiveness of participatory ergonomic interventions over time.
With the capacity to produce 1.6 billion calculations per second, the new Cray vector/parallel supercomputer in the college's Engine Research Center (ERC) will help in designing higher-power, cleaner-burning, more fuel-efficient engines. The $1.3 million supercomputer, installed in May, accurately simulates engine processes such as combustion, providing answers about basic principles of engine performance. This will greatly aid the ERC in its role as an Army Center of Excellence for Advanced Propulsion.
Pictured, PhD candidate Laura Ricart uses a graphic workstation to access the Cray supercomputer, under the guidance of Associate Professor Christopher J. Rutland (center) and Professor Rolf D. Reitz, both of the college's mechanical engineering department
To accommodate the expansion of strategic research programs, the college is now finalizing a plan to reorganize space while optimizing for interdisciplinary activity. The "Corridor Plan" organizes the campus into six strategic corridor areas:
- Chemical/Biotechnology Corridor
- Manufacturing/Mechanical Corridor
- Informational Corridor
- Electrical/Electronics Corridor
- Infrastructure/Environmental Corridor
- Engineering Sciences/Materials Corridor
Important to implementing the Corridor Plan is construction of the 140,000 squarefoot Engineering Centers Building.
ENGINEERING CENTERS BUILDING
The college's space deficit limits growth in several key research areas including microelectronics, manufacturing and production. The Engineering Centers Building (ECB), an important component of the Vision 2000 fund raising campaign, will create needed space in a way that enables faculty, graduate students and undergraduates to interact with each other for maximum results in both research and education.
The ECB will house strategic research and technology programs in the areas of manufacturing and production, with special emphasis on engineering centers. It will also include space devoted to undergraduate student activities.
CONTINUING MICROMACHINE ADVANCES
This (not shown) microdynamometer represents the latest generation of micro devices produced by Professor Henry Guckel of the college's Wisconsin Center for Applied Microelectronics (WCAM). Produced at the university's Synchrotron Radiation Center, it is one of the first complete microsystems in a single package having both a drive and a sense mechanism. At the top is the drive gear, 1mm in diameter and 150 microns thick, which drives into a center idling gear of 250 micron diameter. (A human hair is 75 microns in diameter.) At the bottom is the breaking gear which can be used to apply a load via a current-controlled magnetic field to measure the torque on the rotor, or as a feedback system to determine how much force the motor supplies.
This motor is magnetic, not electrostatic as are most micromotors. It requires only 1 milliwatt of power to keep the three gears spinning--significantly lower than other magnetic micromotors. (Externally wound coils power the motor, as opposed to integrated coils, thus enabling the low power motor requirement.) This motor can reach 8,000 rpm; other WCAM versions have achieved nearly 150,000 rpm. The microdynamometer has many potential uses in manufacturing processes and products as a sensor of external magnetic fields, pressure or gas flow.
Copyright 1995 University System Board of Regents
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1995 Annual Report Contents