Engineering Ideas for Tomorrow -- College of Engineering 1997 Annual Report
Industrial Engineering
College of Engineering 1997 Annual Report -- Engineering Ideas for Tomorrow

Michael J. Smith (Chair)
360 Mechanical Engineering
1513 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706-1572
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Tel: 608/262-2686
Fax: 608/262-8454

Computer networks provide nurse's presence for counseling and education

  Distance Nursing
Medical examining room with computer

Professor Patricia Flatley Brennan is looking at ways to use computer networks to provide the presence of a nurse, whether it is through counseling or teaching and education (34K JPG) Brennan has a dual appointment with the School of Nursing and the Department of Industrial Engineering to study health informatics. Health informatics is the study, invention and implementation of structures and algorithms to improve communication, understanding and management of medical information. The end objective is coalescing data, knowledge and the tools necessary to apply that data and knowledge at the time and place that a decision needs to be made. One of Brennan's goals is to develop a data type that will allow efficient transfer of medical information. "Imagine you want to send patient information across the country via a network. The file might included text, an analogue tracing of a heart rhythm, X-rays, pictures, etc.," says Brennan. "All of this needs to be integrated into a secure data type that can be easily sent and received."

Consortium formed to understand and counter repetitive motion injuries

A new consortium under the direction of Professor Robert G. Radwin is providing advanced ergonomics analysis methods to industry. The Ergonomics Analysis and Design Consortium offers its members the opportunity to use unique software and hardware developed in Radwin's lab in applying new analysis techniques to current projects. Members confer with the college's researchers and other consortium members and help influence the development of new ergonomic analysis instruments and methods. "We enable industry to have immediate access to our new technology to analyze human factors engineering problems," Radwin says. "At the same time we see how our research can be used in practice. It's a great way to try things out in the `real world' and make our new methods even better." Radwin's team is developing new measurement instruments and analytical methods for quantifying physical stress in repetitive manual work. Multimedia Video Task Analysis (MVTA) helps automate ergonomic analysis of visually discerned activities through an innovative interactive computer system. The system utilizes custom multimedia software and a computer-controlled VCR to facilitate analysis of videotaped activities. The system synchronizes multi-channel sampled data with the video. Radwin says widespread use of the methods would enable researchers to conduct the massive ergonomics study necessary to understand and counter repetitive motion injuries.

QRM Center sees rapid growth

Participation in the Center for Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) has grown to 38 member firms in just four years. What started as a largely local enterprise in 1993 now generates inquiries and seminar attendees from around the nation. QRM is a company-wide strategy which can cut lead times in all phases of manufacturing. The concept encourages companies to constantly search for ways to squeeze excess time from every system and develops strategies to uncover and eliminate waste and inefficiency across all functional areas. Center Director Rajan Suri, who also heads up the Manufacturing Systems Engineering Program, regularly holds seminars on quick response manufacturing techniques and implementation. These seminars are now filling up months in advance. This, in addition to coverage in the mainstream and technical press, has contributed to the center's growth. The size of companies involved is growing as well. Over the past year, multinational companies such as John Deere, ALCOA and Bosch, with worldwide sales ranging from $9 billion to more than $23 billion, have joined the center.

Students tackle `real world' project

Faced with expanding student enrollment, the Lake Mills, Wisconsin School District turned to industrial design study team Terry Kratky and Kelly Nuss for an evaluation of its space needs. Under the direction of Professor Arne Thesen, the industrial engineering seniors collected data and reviewed enrollment projections and utilization of present space to generate short-term and long-term options for the school board. In their presentation to the board, the students outlined their research and explained their recommendation that the district build a new school. The project was part of a capstone design course in which students work on a variety of real-world projects. Nuss says the project required them to draw on all their academic experience as well as knowledge gained in the workplace. As a result, she says the project included some of the most valuable coursework she has ever undertaken. Thesen credits the students for tackling a tough job in a politically charged environment.

Copyright © 1997 University System Board of Regents

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Date last modified: Thursday, 02-Oct-1997 12:00:00 CDT
Date created: 2-Oct-1997

1997 Annual Report Contents