|TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER LEADERSHIP|
Plasma technology holds a great deal of promise for improving manufacturing processes and products. The college's leadership in this area has advanced rapidly, thanks in part to strong connections with industry and response to their needs. Advances in plasma-aided manufacturing developed at the college are now at work in companies in Wisconsin as well as around the country.
Graduate student Karen Kirmse operates an electron cyclotron resonance plasma reactor for etching of microchips in the NSF Center for Plasma-Aided Manufacturing
(46K JPG). Students and faculty, together with the ERC's microelectronics industry partners, have developed a test for determining when the plasma conditions are optimized for maximum speed and production in this reactor. The test is now being implemented at several semiconductor manufacturing companies. The mission of the ERC, funded by NSF and a consortium of 33 companies, is to work directly with industry on problems of national importance to improve the competitiveness of industry.
PLASMA SPRAY TECHNOLOGY
Lawn mower blade manufacturer Dick Wilkey's research partnership with the college lead to the start of a second business: Thermal Spray Technologies. Wilkey, a UW-Madison graduate, runs Fisher-Barton, Inc., in Watertown, Wisconsin. As a result of supporting Bill Lenling's graduate student research, under the direction of Materials Science and Engineering Professor Frank J. Worzala, Fisher-Barton moved into plasma spraying. Thermal Spray then hired recent MS&E graduate Raymond Smith. The company has expanded from three employees in 1992 to its current staff of 12. Thermal spray is also working with the college through the Wisconsin Center for Industrial Competitiveness-Southwest (WisCIC/SW). The program will assess the company's current business practices and make recommendations for training to continuously improve modern manufacturing methods. The plasma spraying process injects powders of almost any material into the high-temperature, high-speed flame of a plasma gun. Typical applications include coatings for wear resistance, corrosion resistance, thermal barriers and dielectric coatings.
Shown here (from left): Frank J. Worzala, interim director, Materials Science Center; Bill Lenling, vice president, Thermal Spray Technologies; Raymond Smith, coatings technician, Thermal Spary Technologies; and Dick Wilkey, president, Fisher-Barton, Inc
RESPONDING TO CUSTOMER NEEDS
Guiding the college's efforts to transfer technology are the strategic needs of industry and society. This includes enabling industry to operate in a more environmentally friendly, cost effective manner. It also includes a commitment to provide new engineers with an understanding of business and management principles as well as engineering concepts. Matching their educational experience to industry's needs is one of the most important ways available to transfer technology.
Several years ago, industry requested that civil and environmental engineering students be exposed to both the "nuts and bolts" and management angles of construction. The College of Engineering responded by implementing a Construction Engineering and Management Program (CEM), one of only six such programs in the nation. Since the program was approved in 1991, about 20 undergraduates and 30 graduate students have completed the CEM sequence, which includes co-op positions, courses taught by industry professionals, and extensive contact with individuals working in the construction field.
Among the recent graduates is Kulpreet, who received her master's degree in May and is now employed as a controls engineer for the Oscar J. Boldt Construction Company, headquartered in Appleton, Wis. Pictured above , she reviews plans for the 315,000-squarefoot Appleton North High School, completed this summer
ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS ENGINEERS
As society has become increasingly concerned with environmental issues, so have engineers. That's why researchers such as Chemical and Biological Engineering Associate Professor Thatcher W. Root are examining each aspect of the production process--including raw materials and by-products--to find "environmentally benign" pathways. For example, Root conducts research to eliminate the use of the toxic, chlorine-containing chemical phosgene from the production of polyurethanes.
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Date last modified: Wednesday, 29-Nov-1995 12:00:00 CST
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1995 Annual Report Contents