EXPLORING THE OPTIONS
By combining their skills with economics, business, finance, computer sciences, math and statistics, UW-Madison engineering students are learning strategies to address the uncertainty and ever-changing needs of manufacturing operations. Recently, Assistant Professor Harriet Black Nembhard (right) and Associate Professor Leyuan Shi (left) began teaching Financial Engineering: A View of Manufacturing Operations (IE 691), to address the need for experts in and knowledge of this hot new engineering field.
The course's objective is to investigate a real-options modeling framework for manufacturing transitions. Students review financial-option research results, learn ways to quantify manufacturing activities, and analyze optimal business strategies based on real-option models. They also participate in teams to solve real problems posed by such companies as Milsco Manufacturing Co., Milwaukee; Springs Window Fashions, Middleton; and John Deere, Horicon.
VIRTUAL HOUSE CALLS
For people who suffer from chronic congestive heart failure, the months of home recovery after a hospital stay begin with visiting nurse care. Although they receive regular checks, patients must perform many daily care activities themselves and often aren't up to the task.
Working with nurses in the Milwaukee-based Aurora Health Care system, Professor Patricia Flatley Brennan is developing an in-home computer-based system that would enable patients to log on anytime to a secure server, enter health information, access educational web pages, monitor their progress through graphics of their medical information or E-mail their doctor or nurse.
With researchers in the Schools of Nursing and Pharmacy, the Medical School and the Division of Information Technology, Brennan is proposing a regional health-information technology architecture that can securely transmit and store clinical information to comply with stringent restrictions on health-record sharing.
SHARING MOVIE STREAMS
The Internet has its limits. For example, you can't watch a popular feature-length movie, which thousands of viewers might request at staggered times, on the web. Together, the requests would consume too much bandwidth. But new technologies developed by Professor Mary Vernon and colleagues at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Washington could hurdle that limitation. The group's techniques help servers conserve bandwidth by seamlessly switching and sharing users' movie-bearing data streams. The result: A server could deliver a two-hour movie or distance-education lecture, news broadcast or other content to 1,000 viewers simultaneously watching at different points in the webcast using only 12 data streams, rather than 1,000.
Much of our national infrastructure is built around networked systems that are vulnerable to attack. However, testing these systems by subjecting them to known threats is expensive and, in such cases as air-traffic control or hospital- operations systems, impractical.
Eleven researchers, including five from UW-Madison, are conducting a five-year, $4.2 million U.S. Department of Defense project to explore problems related to protecting critical national infrastructures. Professor Stephen Robinson leads the project, in which investigators will develop a framework to identify and characterize threat scenarios and measure vulnerabilities in critical systems. They will develop and test a system architecture that automatically detects and responds to potential threats and vulnerabilities. Other UW-Madison team members include IE Professors Vicki Bier, Pascale Carayon and Mary Vernon and Professor Thomas Kurtz, mathematics and statistics.
CUTTING EDGE GAMMA KNIFE
Professor Michael Ferris has designed a computer program that can generate a treatment plan with more accuracy than doctors can achieve manually.
The program, which Ferris developed with researchers at the University of Maryland Medical School, optimizes a unique brain-tumor treatment technology called the Gamma Knife. The knife's 201 radiation sources combine simultaneously to create a "sphere" of treatment for brain tumors, and each radiation shot acts like a scalpel that burns out the tumor. Ferris' system determines the number, location and strength of the shots that will eradicate the tumor cells, and at the same time, limits the total amount of radiation delivered to the patient's brain. Supported by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Microsoft Corporation, Ferris' work also holds promise for treating tumors elsewhere in the body.