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2004-2005 HIGHLIGHTS

Construction of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Building
Construction of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Building
Construction of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Building
The first phase of construction on the Mechanical Engineering Building project began during the summer, with the demolition of the center "Sawtooth" portion.


Biomedical Engineering and Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor Rob Radwin was quoted in the Jan. 27 Washington Post about ergonomics researchers' boycott of an Occupational Health & Safety Administration symposium examining existing research about whether repetitive motions in the workplace cause injuries. The March 5 Chronicle of Higher Education also quoted him.

Grainger Professor of Engineering Physics Jerry Kulcinski, director of the Fusion Technology Institute, was quoted worldwide: CNN, ABS CBN News, Philippines;, New Zealand; CTV, Canada; Reuters, UK and India; Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Miami Herald, ABC News and many others regarding President Bush's space exploration vision.

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Xiaochun Li's cold-laser machining technique, which can slice cheese into shapes such as Bucky Badger, received extensive coverage: CNN, USA Today, National Public Radio, the New York Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, The Washington Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, Toronto, and more.

The April 2004 issue of Fortune Small Business featured Hi-Art cancer-treatment manufacturer TomoTherapy, a company started by Biomedical Engineering, Engineering Physics, Human Oncology, and Medical Physics Professor Thomas “Rock” Mackie and researcher Paul Reckwerdt.

Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Nick Abbott's company, Platypus Technologies, is a standout among biotechnology spinoffs that are creating a third coast, according to Genetic Engineering News.

USA Today chose biomedical engineering senior Jacqueline Gerhart for its College Academic All-Stars first team.

The Internet portal Nanotechnology Now featured Chemical and Biological Engineering Assistant Professor Manos Mavrikakis, graduate student Jeff Greeley and Professor Joost Wintterlin (University of Munich), who provided the first atomic-scale evidence for enhanced catalytic reactivity at stretched surfaces.

Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor David Beebe and his lab group's paper, "Microenvironment design considerations for cellular scale studies," was the featured article on the cover of the April 2004 journal Lab On A Chip: Miniaturisation for Chemistry, Biology & Bioengineering. Beebe also was quoted in the June 26 Chicago Tribune about Midwest medical advances.

Erwin W. Mueller Professor and Bascom Professor of Surface Science Max Lagally was quoted in the April 8 New York Times on the use of dopants in the fabrication of semiconductors.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Jack Ma was featured in the July/August 2004 issue of Technology Review magazine for his work on improving transistors in the power amplifiers of wireless devices.

Building for education and research

Work on the new Mechanical Engineering Building began over the summer with relocation of laboratories and facilities in the "Sawtooth" portion of the building and demolition of that structure. A new, four-story building will rise in its place, and will serve as a home for education and research efforts in both mechanical and industrial engineering. After this phase of construction is completed, the faculty and staff that remain in the Mechanical Engineering Building will move from the old building into the new one. Major renovation will then begin on the old portion of the building, creating modern space for teaching and research while retaining the historic facade. The timing of this project is critical, in that the new Engineering Centers Building is being used to provide surge space to accommodate many of the faculty, staff, and graduate students from the Mechanical Engineering Building.

Plans to convert the old interview complex on the first floor of Engineering Hall to an Engineering Student Learning Center are advancing, with construction proposed to begin in 2005. This facility will feature space for tutoring and group study and will complement student study space in Wendt Library. The project was made possible by a generous donation from UW-Madison alumnus Wade Fetzer and his wife, Beverly.

Research grants and patent disclosures

During fiscal year 2004, there were 122 patent disclosures from College of Engineering faculty, staff and students to lead all schools and colleges at UW-Madison in such disclosures. It is the fourth consecutive year that the college has recorded more than 100 patent disclosures. Final figures for research expenditures for the fiscal year July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2004 show total research expenditures of $104,447,000. Overall, research expenditures in the College of Engineering have increased more than 60 percent in the last five years.

Some of the new research funding includes:

  • The college's Trace Research and Development Center received a $5 million Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center grant with a focus on accessibility and usability of standard information and interface technologies by people with disabilities. The five-year grant is provided by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to develop innovative technological solutions for universal access to current and emerging information technologies. The intent is to provide seamless integration of multiple technologies used by individuals with disabilities in the home, community and workplace.
  • The Department of Homeland Security has awarded $12 million to a group of universities that includes UW-Madison to create the first of several planned national centers for research on terrorism. Researchers in the new Homeland Security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events will examine the targets and means of terrorism, as well as protection of key infrastructure systems, including electricity, transportation and telecommunications. Industrial Engineering and Engineering Physics Professor Vicki Bier is the principal investigator for the UW-Madison work, which is primarily in the area of risk assessment.
  • Grainger Professor of Superconducting Materials and L.V. Shubnikov Professor David Larbalestier and Materials Science and Engineering Professors Eric Hellstrom and Chang-Beom Eom have received a three-year, $750,000 grant from the Department of Energy. The grant will fund work on the basic materials science of second-generation Y-Ba-Cu-O (YBCO)-coated conductors for superconducting power applications. The first application of these conductors is likely to be in high-capacity power cables that will mitigate the large power swings that led to the 2003 massive power outage in the eastern United States.
  • Industrial Engineering Professor David Zimmerman has received a five-year, $640,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to study ways to improve nurse retention rates and resident care in nursing homes. Under the grant, Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis (CHSRA) researchers will develop and implement a combined clinical and cultural model based on an interdisciplinary approach to resident care in which direct-care workers have an enhanced role in resident assessment and care. (See the Industrial Engineering page for more information.)

Faculty excellence receives recognition

Engineering faculty members received many awards and honors during the past year. A small sampling includes:

  • IBM Professor of Materials Science and Engineering John Perepezko was named to the National Academy of Engineering in 2004, one of the highest honors accorded to engineers. The academy cited Perepezko for his innovative work in solidification processing to obtain useful microstructured, nanostructured and amorphous materials. He joins 18 other faculty members of the College of Engineering who have achieved NAE election.
  • Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Paul Voyles received a 2004 Faculty Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation. Voyles plans to use a novel electron microscopy technique he helped develop to study the atomic structure of metallic glass (metals that do not crystallize, and therefore resemble glass) when cooled. Research into such atomic structures should allow scientists to find better ways to utilize the desirable properties of metallic glass, such as its strength and magnetic force. (See the Materials Science and Engineering page for more information.)
  • Engineering faculty members are also winning honors from respected scientific publications. For example, Steenbock Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Jim Dumesic was chosen one of the 2003 Scientific American 50. The winners are recognized for their contributions to advancement of technology in science, engineering, commerce and public policy. Dumesic was chosen as the winner in the energy area for his work pioneering economical catalysts for turning biomass into hydrogen fuel. And, the MIT Technology Review named Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Nimmi Ramanujam and Chemical and Biological Engineering Assistant Professor David Lynn as two of the world's 100 Top Young Innovators.

Educational advancement and student diversity

Camp Badger students, 2004

Camp Badgerbrings together a diverse group of young people from all over Wisconsin to spend a week on the UW-Madison campus learning about engineering. Six one-week sessions were conducted this summer. Shown here are 40 students from Milwaukee. The camp introduces kids to the many different facets of engineering, stimulates interest in math and science through hands-on activities and encourages the consideration of careers in science and technology. (27K JPG)

The increased efforts in the college's Diversity Affairs Office are beginning to yield positive results. The incoming freshman class of pre-engineers in fall 2003 was more than 11 percent minorities, including 7 percent underrepresented minorities, compared to 6 percent in fall 2002. Several programs may have contributed to this increase, including the Engineering Summer Program (ESP) for high school students, the PEOPLE Program (Pre-college Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence), and the LEED (Leaders in Engineering Excellence and Diversity) scholars program that gave more than 100 students scholarships and systematic academic support.

The college's faculty, staff and Industrial Advisory Board are in the process of assessing the overall undergraduate engineering education and curricula. The purpose of this assessment and revision is to ensure that students receive an engineering education that will prepare them for today's rapidly changing world. Four faculty committees are developing a common, shared vision across the college that will form the basis for revising undergraduate engineering education.

Departments in the college are continuing work on their own educational innovations. For example, the Department of Engineering Physics has introduced an engineering physics BS degree track for the first time beginning this fall. This track allows students to perform undergraduate research and specialize in areas such as nanotechnology, plasma-aided manufacturing, superconductivity, and computational sciences, in addition to the nuclear engineering and engineering mechanics and astronautics degree paths previously available.

Co-ops and internships continue to be an important part of the educational experience at Wisconsin. Student employment in co-op or intern positions has remained strong, with more than 550 participants during the 2003-04 school year. More than 60 percent of the co-ops and internships were with Wisconsin companies, making this program an important link for the college and university to state industry and Wisconsin economic development.

Student honors and activities

Schoofs Prize for Creativity and Tong Prototype Prize

Winners of first place in the Schoofs Prize for Creativity and third place in the Tong Prototype Prize — (from left) Nick Passint, Joe Cessna and Bryan Wilson — with their invention Ice Net X, a net which ice fishermen can use to draw large fish through small holes. (22K JPG)

Tong Prototype Prize

First-place Tong Prototype Prize winner Aaron Wallander with his winning prototype — a device companies can use to separate different polymer pellets via their density. (23K JPG)

This year, the college was honored to have national champions in three competitive student projects. The college's FutureTruck won its third consecutive national championship, easily beating 14 other universities. The UW-Madison team, composed of undergraduate engineering students, scored 924 points out of a possible 1,000. The Concrete Canoe team successfully defended its national championship, triumphing over 21 other universities. The canoe, dubbed "Rock Solid," followed in the footsteps of the "Chequamegon," which won last year's national competition. And in only its third year of existence, the UW-Madison UW-Madison Clean Snowmobile Team emerged as 2004 national champions. The nine-member team beat 17 others after finishing last and next-to-last in its previous two appearances at the national competition. The Wisconsin team was the only one to complete or pass the three major competition tests — one for beating the clean emissions standard, another for running quieter than a standard snowmobile, and a final 100-mile endurance race.

A College of Engineering vehicle named "Zero Carbon" won two awards at the prestigious Tour de Sol competition sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. The "Zero Carbon" vehicle won in the Hydrogen Vehicle category by converting the one-seat electric vehicle into a battery-powered car that can run on energy from a hydrogen fuel cell, a solar panel or wind turbine. The team of students that worked on the vehicle developed collapsible solar panels and a wind turbine that can be stored in the trunk of the vehicle. For developing the novel method for powering the car, the Zero Carbon team also won the competition's coveted Technology Innovation Award.

A project developed by the new UW-Madison chapter of Engineers Without Borders to improve existing water conditions in the African country of Rwanda received a 2004-05 Wisconsin Idea Undergraduate Fellowship from the university's Morgridge Center for Public Service. The project seeks to improve water systems in the country and identify sources of biological and chemical water contaminants in the rural community of Muramba. The first group of students visited Rwanda in 2004 with the group's advisor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Peter Bosscher.

Ice Net X, a collapsible net designed for ice fishing, won the college's 2004 Schoofs Prize for Creativity for the best undergraduate student invention. Nicholas Passint, Joe Cessna and Bryan Wilson, all majoring in engineering mechanics and astronautics, were the winning inventors. A project called Polymer Pellet Separation via Density, a novel system using water to separate polymer pellets of different densities, received the 2004 Tong Prototype Prize for the best prototype developed for the competition. Its inventor is Aaron Wallander, a chemical and biological engineering major. Engineering alumni Richard Schoofs and Peter Tong sponsor the annual contests, which award more than $29,000 in prize money.

Several student organizations received national honors. For the fourth consecutive year, the UW-Madison Biomedical Engineering Society received the Meritorious Achievement Award — the highest student honor from its national organization. The UW-Madison Chapter of the Association of Engineering Geologists won the National Outstanding Student Chapter Award. Two student organizations were honored at this year's All Campus Leadership Awards reception: The American Indian Science and Engineering Society received the Outstanding Contribution to Membership Award, and the Society of Women Engineers received both the Outstanding Contribution to Community Award and Outstanding Student Organization of the Year.


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Copyright 2004 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
Date last modified: 17-Feb-2005
Date created: 17-Feb-2005