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Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin visits engineering campus

Tammy Baldwin with the FutureTruck team

Tammy Baldwin (third from right) with members of the FutureTruck team and team advisor Glenn Bower (far right). (32K JPG)

David Beebe shows Tammy Baldwin a microchannel device.

Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor David Beebe shows Tammy Baldwin a microchannel device. (25K JPG)

United States Representative Tammy Baldwin took a break from Capitol Hill Monday, August 27, to focus on the latest research in microwave technology, microchannel devices and the chemical composition of diesel engine exhaust.

Baldwin's visit the UW-Madison College of Engineering brought her face to face with engineers from biomedical, mechanical and electrical and computer engineering.

The college's FutureTruck team and advisor Glenn Bower greeted Baldwin in front of Engineering Hall, where they presented their hybrid electric vehicle. For the "Moollennium," a 2000 Chevrolet Suburban, the engine and motor both supply power directly to the wheels for driving. The amount of power supplied by each is determined by the car's computer and is controlled for optimum fuel economy. The vehicle has the capability to run on just the electric engine, just the gasoline motor or a combination of both.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Susan Hagness met with Baldwin to share her plans to develop a microwave imaging method to detect the presence of breast tumors, an alternative to the mammogram. Hagness' goal is to discover tumors earlier and eliminate some of the anxiety women feel while waiting to find out if a tumor is malignant or benign. Hagness' group is gathering data about the dielectric properties of malignant, benign and normal tissues, as well as developing a biopsy method to examine tissue in the breast.

Tammy Baldwin and Dean Paul Peercy observe microwave imaging.

During a visit to Susan Hagness' (top right) lab, Tammy Baldwin (center) watches a graduate student turn College of Engineering Dean Paul Peercy (bottom left) into a test subject for microwave imaging methods. (26K JPG)

Rolf Reitz and Tammy Baldwin in the mechanical engineering

Wisconsin Distinguished Professor Rolf Reitz tells Tammy Baldwin about the current research projects in the mechanical engineering department. (24K JPG)

Baldwin also toured the lab of Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor David Beebe. Beebe uses palm-sized microchannel devices to solve problems in biology and medicine. From his research of these microfluidic systems, Beebe created the spin-off company, Micro Agri Systems, Inc., which could revolutionize how breeders handle and manipulate embryos. Beebe's technology could allow them to culture embryos in microchannels molded in plastic, and make in vitro fertilization steps easier, more accurate and less expensive.

The last stop on Baldwin's visit included a tour of two mechanical engineering labs. Led by Professor Patrick Farrell, Baldwin's group learned about experiments in the Engine Research Center. Researchers there are evaluating the chemical composition of exhaust streams from diesel engines. Currently, the government is mandating changes in fuel composition, and these studies will determine whether or not chemical composition of exhaust will change when fuel composition is altered.

Following the tour, Baldwin explained that her visit to the engineering campus made her very proud.

"It's an honor to represent an area with a university that has an international reputation for excellence," said Baldwin. "Today I saw examples of the research that upholds that reputation."

TRACE Center Director Gregg Vanderheiden explains accessibility
                        technology to Rep. Baldwin.

TRACE Center Director Gregg Vanderheiden explains accessibility technology to Rep. Baldwin. (24K JPG)

Baldwin saw more College of Engineering research in action during a tour of the UW Research Park on Tuesday, September 4. Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor Gregg Vanderheiden explained the TRACE Center's research and development in the area of disability access to technology, including electronic voting machines and future network technology standards that allow mobile devices such as cell phones and handheld computers to communicate with home appliances, kiosks, and ATMs. Baldwin saw brief demonstrations of past work at TRACE which includes the accessibility control panel options in every Microsoft Windows operating system and guidelines for web accessibility.