College honors 15 at Oct. 24 Engineers’ Day celebration
Congratulations to the recipients of the 2008 College of Engineering Early-Career and Distinguished Achievement Awards. This year, we honor nine alumni whose contributions have made a mark on the automotive industry, aerospace, healthcare, medical technologies, consumer electronics, nuclear science and technology, consulting, and academia. These engineers, executives, administrators and entrepreneurs will receive their awards Oct. 24 at an evening banquet during the 61st annual Engineers’ Day celebration.
During the banquet, the college also will recognize six faculty and staff members for their contributions and excellence in such areas as education, engine research, campus diversity, and program support.
Throughout the day, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends can attend seminars that include the 2010 project “Introduction to society’s engineering grand challenges,” the nuclear renaissance, stem cells and the heart, a wrap-up of the student LeaderShape experience in Cape Town, South Africa; and a humorous look at Badger football from the sidelines. In addition, there will be college tours and departmental lunches. For more details about the event, visit the Engineers’ Day website.
Early-Career Achievement Award
Donald W. Stanton—MSME ’95, PhDME ’98
Corporate Director, Advanced Engine R&D
Donald W. Stanton remembers when he began painting. As a graduate student in mechanical engineering at UW-Madison, Stanton found a kids’ watercolor paint set in his apartment and began painting what he saw outside his window. His dabbling flourished into a collection of landscapes and some portraits that he displays in his home, gives away and very occasionally sells.
Stanton’s preference to paint landscapes reflects his passion for the environment—an interest that motivates his work as director of advanced engine research and development at Cummins Inc.
Cummins is a leading producer of diesel engines above 200 horsepower. With customers in approximately 190 countries, Cummins could set the standard for diesel and natural gas products worldwide. Stanton is responsible for planning the Cummins technological path through 2020. In that role, he constantly balances environmental impact with customer need and advantageous business decisions.
Cummins has a history of introducing environmentally friendly technologies, and in many countries, Cummins engines have emissions far below government regulations. Many of the innovative concepts in fuel economy and emission reductions are due to Stanton’s doctoral research on computational fluid dynamics, which he integrated at Cummins to produce new design processes.
Stanton began his engineering career as an undergraduate at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terra Haute, Indiana. Originally from Seymour, Indiana, Stanton was a first-generation college student. He obtained bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering, mathematics and literature. He attended UW-Madison for his master’s and PhD in mechanical engineering, focusing on using numerical analysis to solve a variety of engineering problems, especially fluid dynamics and combustion problems.
Stanton obtained his PhD in 1998 and moved back to Indiana to begin working for Cummins in 2000. Products produced by Cummins from 2002 onward have been influenced by Stanton’s analysis tools. For Stanton, his work is a way to improve the community and world and to give back for the support he received from family and friends in his educational endeavors.
Beyond work, Stanton enjoys spending time with Ann, his wife of 14 years, and their three daughters. Rebecca is 9, Elizabeth is 5 and Madeline is 1 year old. His daughters have acquired Stanton’s interest in painting. The family also frequently hikes and bikes.
In addition to his outdoor and technical interests, Stanton enjoys reading 20th-century and current American novels.
Distinguished Achievement Awards
Charles G. Gunderson—BSME ’56
Corporate Director (Retired)
Charles Gunderson credits his mother for sparking his technical interests. He was a comic book fan as a boy, with a stack of comics at least 2 feet high in his closet. His mother offered to buy them from him and his brother, Dennis, at full price if they promised never to purchase a comic book again. The boys took the buy-out, and in place of the comics they began reading magazines like Popular Science and Mechanics Illustrated.
The brothers went on to study mechanical engineering at UW-Madison, where Gunderson met his wife of 52 years, Elaine, on a blind date. When Gunderson graduated in 1956, his mother, Mildred Luella, also received her bachelor’s degree after attending school part-time for eight years.
His childhood fascination with cars and all things mechanical evolved into a 39-year career at Chrysler. While there, Gunderson was part of a multitude of car and truck projects, including the Plymouth Road Runner, Barracuda and Dodge Stealth. He was the original product planning manager for the Chrysler minivan, which became an industry icon.
Gunderson received his master of automotive engineering at Chrysler in 1958 and an executive management diploma from Columbia University in 1985. He held more than a dozen executive positions at Chrysler, including general product manager for Dodge and Plymouth cars, director of program management for small cars, and director of product planning for all Chrysler Corporation cars and trucks.
Beyond work, Gunderson and Elaine, a retired registered nurse, have enjoyed traveling and participating in mission trips in more than 45 countries. One year they spent Christmas in Haiti with four of their five children and provided free meals and small gifts to abandoned children.
Gunderson also gives back to UW-Madison, acting for several years as president of the Detroit Alumni Club, which awarded him a distinguished service award. He has established a scholarship for engineering students and was the chair of Campaign for Wisconsin in the Detroit area.
“UW-Madison has always been important to me, and I never would have achieved what I did without the education and support UW gave me as I started out,” he says.
These days, Gunderson keeps busy with the Church of the Red Rocks in Sedona, Arizona. He and Elaine are part of a Jeep club, where eight couples go “jeeping” each month all over the West. They also travel the country to visit their 11 grandchildren.
Katherine L. Hermansen—BSIE ’86
Vice President, Clinical Performance Excellence
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare
With cobbled streets and flowerpots in every window, Assisi, Italy, is a small town three hours from Rome. Katherine L. Hermansen found herself there in May 2007, following in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare, the two saints instrumental in founding the Franciscan Order.
The 12-day trip was not a vacation—it was a pilgrimage for the senior leaders of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, where Hermansen is vice president of clinical performance excellence. The pilgrimage was an opportunity for Wheaton leaders to deepen their understanding of the organization’s Franciscan heritage and grow together as a community engaged in a common ministry.
Wheaton’s strong commitment to its values was one reason Hermansen was attracted to the organization. The effect on people’s lives makes healthcare projects especially meaningful to her, and her current work focuses on developing and implementing systematic processes that will keep quality patient care high.
Hermansen’s introduction to healthcare came as a senior industrial engineering student at UW-Madison, where she conducted an operational analysis for the employee health department at the University of Wisconsin Hospital. After that, she was hooked.
After graduation, Hermansen worked for the SwedishAmerican Health System in Rockford, Illinois. While there, she helped reduce turnaround time for lab test results and redesigned the hospital admission process. She also was instrumental in several prestigious quality awards the company earned.
In 1993, she obtained her MBA from Rockford College. In 2001, she moved back to her hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, to work for All Saints, a Wheaton hospital. There she oversaw several initiatives, including partnering with nursing leaders to improve patient satisfaction from the 17th to the 87th percentile and leading All Saints’ successful application for the Wisconsin Forward Award. In 2007, she was promoted to her current position at the corporate office.
A fellow of the Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society, she is one of only 26 members honored with diplomate status in the Society for Health Systems (SHS), a division of the Institute of Industrial Engineers. The honors recognize her contributions to these professional organizations and the healthcare industry. She recently served a two-year term on the SHS Board of Directors.
In her spare time, Hermansen is an avid sailor and golfer. She grew up sailing on Lake Michigan with her father, a retired mechanical engineer, and she still competes in regattas. She also enjoys spending time with her three nephews and one niece.
Chia-Hong Jan—MS ’88, PhD ’91 materials science
Senior Principal Engineer, Program Manager
When Chia-Hong Jan’s daughters ask him what he does at work, he points to their laptops and cell phones and lists a variety of features, from Wi-Fi to gigahertz processors, that exist because of his work at Intel.
As a senior principal engineer and program manager, Jan manages Intel’s most advanced 32 nanometer complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) system-on-a-chip process technologies using high dielectric constant (high-k) and metal gate transistor architecture. High-k materials will build the next generation of tiny, yet powerful transistors for use in mobile Internet devices and several consumer electronics.
Jan, who originally is from Taiwan, came to Madison in 1986 with his wife, Chyong-Huey Lin. Jan obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and master’s of business administration from the National Taiwan University. He entered the materials science and engineering department at UW-Madison to gain a better understanding of solid-state materials and obtained his PhD in 1991 under Professor Y. Austin Chang. His wife obtained her doctorate in chemical engineering the same year.
Jan’s solid academic background—he maintained a 4.0 grade-point average in graduate school—led to a position with Intel in 1993 in Portland, Oregon. His record of achievement has continued: Jan holds 33 U.S. patents with seven pending.
Jan was recognized with Intel’s highest individual achievement award in 2004 for his work integrating low-k interlayer dielectric (ILD) interconnects into silicon CMOS. ILD interconnects isolate conducting materials in a semiconductor, and this technology put Intel a year ahead of its competitors. In 2007, Jan’s team won an achievement award for saving Intel more than $1 billion through its efforts on 65-nanometer system-on-a-chip technology.
Jan is passionate about his work because he sees the effects of his research in the consumer world quickly: Intel keeps up with Moore’s law, which predicts the number of transistors on a chip will double every two years.
Outside of work, Jan keeps his competitive spirit alive as a sports enthusiast. He plays basketball and soccer and recently has begun running. Additionally, Jan enjoys cooking; he sees the process of finding and perfecting recipes as a blend of art and engineering.
Jan and Lin have two daughters, and the family frequently travels around the world. Cathy is 21 and studies electrical engineering at Yale. Irina is 12. Between the two of them, Cathy and Irina have claimed the Oregon state gymnastics championship five times.
Valarie King-Bailey—BSCEE ’82
Chief Executive Officer
OnShore Technology Group
Three years ago, Valarie King-Bailey watched as the infamous Stateway Garden housing projects in Chicago were torn down. The deteriorating high-rises had been the scene of drug deals and gang violence for decades. They were also her childhood home. Now, she can still see the site of the projects from her condominium in Lake Point Tower, a prominent landmark in the Chicago skyline.
King-Bailey has come a long way from Chicago’s south side. She was the first student ever from her high school to attend UW-Madison, where she became the first black female to graduate from the civil and environmental engineering department. She went on to obtain an MBA from the DeVry University Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago. She is still a dedicated Badger, with red-and-white memorabilia in both her office and home.
King-Bailey began her high-tech career at Intergraph Corporation. She was involved with projects such as the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and configuration of computer systems to facilitate the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster investigation. She has traveled extensively and gained an international reputation as a leading marketing professional for high-tech companies. She has served as a director at EMC/Documentum Inc. and Abbott Labs, and she became chief marketing officer for Ireland-based QUMAS, LTD, in 2000.
In 2004, King-Bailey founded OnShore Technology Group Inc. Based in Chicago, OnShore specializes in “rightsourcing”—the delivery of advanced technology and consulting resources to foreign companies seeking to establish operations in the United States.
King-Bailey started OnShore in response to the growing number of U.S. job losses due to outsourcing. She is committed to creating and keeping technology jobs on American shores.
OnShore is a family affair. Her husband, Vincent Bailey, is the chief technology officer. Her elder sister Paula King-Boston is her executive assistant.
King-Bailey also has two children. Vincent Jr. is studying computer science and game design at the Chicago Flashpoint Academy. Angela graduated from high school a year early and is studying environmental engineering at Loyola University.
King-Bailey’s greatest motivator is her mother, Jeanette King, who constantly encouraged her to get an education and move beyond Chicago’s project housing. To that end, Jeanette worked multiple jobs to support the family and fulfill that dream, which she shared with King-Bailey’s father, who died when she was 7. “My life is a living testament to the dedication, hard work and values passed on from my parents,” King-Bailey says.
Peigen Li—PhDME ’87
Huazhong University of Science & Technology
Wuhan, Hubei Province, P.R. China
With 50,000 students and a 1,235-acre campus, the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, China, is slightly larger than UW-Madison. Similar to its Wisconsin counterpart, HUST is located in a capital city and boasts a picturesque setting near hills, lakes and plenty of green grass.
The two universities also share something else: HUST President Peigen Li spent four years at UW-Madison, obtaining his PhD in mechanical engineering in 1987.
Li was born in Wuhan, a city with almost eight million people and a history dating back 3,500 years. Wuhan is the capital city of the Hubei province, making it the biggest hub city in central China. Li traveled east to study mechanical engineering in Shanghai in 1973. After graduating and working for a year in industry, Li returned to Wuhan to attend HUST as a graduate student.
When Li earned his master’s degree in 1981, he joined HUST as a faculty member. In 1983, he came to Madison for his doctorate, graduating with honor. Li’s research interests are in computer manufacturing, and he developed a computer-aided process planning platform used widely in industry. His research group also made advances in e-manufacturing. He has published three books and more than 100 papers.
Li became dean of the HUST mechanical science and engineering school in 1995. Two years later Li and a colleague, who is now the Chinese minister of education, won a LEAD award from the Computer and Automated Systems Association of Society of Manufacturing Engineers for their work on computer-integrated manufacturing.
In 2002, Li was appointed vice president of HUST, becoming president three years later. During his term, he has introduced a series of forceful reforms in administration and human resources.
Li is known as the “mayor” of the HUST community of almost 100,000 students, faculty and staff. Always very busy, he escapes to his home in a tranquil corner of campus reserved for senior staff. His wife, Ming Kang, is a retired doctor, and the couple has been married for more than 30 years. Their daughter, Yuanyi Li, is a human resources manager of a company in Shenzhen.
James E. Rushton—MSNE ’67, PhDNE ’75
Director, Nuclear Science and Technology Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy lab. The lab has a diverse research portfolio addressing energy supply and demand. Of its multiple departments, one of the largest is the Nuclear Science and Technology Division. James E. Rushton is the division director.
Rushton oversees 205 staff members, who work on a variety of nuclear topics, including research and development of advanced nuclear energy, nuclear fuel cycles, radioisotopes for medicine, and nuclear waste technologies.
He is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, and studied physics and mathematics at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1967.
His interest in a broad range of energy topics began as a nuclear engineering graduate student at UW-Madison, where he completed one of the first energy assessments for the state of Wisconsin.
Awarded an Atomic Energy Fellowship, Rushton focused his PhD work on measuring nuclear materials with the neutron slowing-down-time spectrometer.
After obtaining his PhD in 1975, Rushton applied his thesis to non-destructive measurements of nuclear materials in support of nuclear non-proliferation at ORNL. In 1979, he moved from the research world at ORNL to the nuclear fuel business. He was responsible for production optimization of three nuclear fuel enrichment plants that processed uranium for nuclear power plants in the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. He contributed to the development of advanced processes for uranium enrichment, and he later marketed these fuel services internationally.
In the early 1990s, Rushton led the Oak Ridge contributions to a U.S. legislative initiative to transfer the enrichment plants from government to private ownership.
Rushton returned to ORNL in 1994 and tackled some challenging environmental cleanup projects before re-entering the R&D world to work on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear energy.
Beyond work, Rushton is a member of the American Nuclear Society and the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management. He is a member of Rotary International and board member of a local natural gas distribution utility. He also is active with St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Rushton and his wife, Rebecca, enjoy golf, sailing and travel. In March 2008, as part of a South American trip, they played golf at the southernmost course in the world, in Ushuaia, Chile. Their daughter, Amy, her husband, Todd, and their two children live in Cumming, Georgia. Their son, David, lives in Oak Ridge.
David J. Smukowski—BSCEE ’78
Chief Executive Officer, Sensors in Motion
Managing Director, IntiGroup
David J. Smukowski is just getting started. After semi-retiring three years ago, he now is working to change global systems that prevent people from having enough food, safe water, education, jobs and a healthy environment. His goal is to initiate financing of large-scale infrastructure or job-related projects that focus on the sustainability of global resources in third-world countries. To do this, he will uphold the Wisconsin Idea and leverage universities, government and business to influence and improve lives outside of classrooms. “This achievement award is an inspiration to me and, hopefully, to other younger engineers to leverage their talents into large solutions for humanity,” Smukowski says.
It has taken a lifetime to assemble the skills and connections necessary to literally change the world. Smukowski grew up in Muskego, Wisconsin, part of a close-knit family of seven. In high school, he worked second shift at a factory to save money for UW-Madison, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering.
After graduating in 1978, he settled in Seattle, Washington, and began working for Boeing Company. He rose to the executive ranks quickly in research, design, energy and environmental affairs, business strategy, mergers and acquisitions.
Throughout his career, he chaired various trade groups and company boards. He assisted in drafting major environmental legislation and worked as a lobbyist and advisor to the White House. He was recognized as U.S. Congress Employee of Excellence in 1988. After a two-year secondment at Berkshire Hathaway as president of flight safety, Smukowski became managing director of Boeing Ventures, where he guided and supported entrepreneurs. He launched Exostar, a business e-commerce leader, and various other business ventures.
Smukowski is currently involved with several investment groups and is the CEO of Sensors in Motion, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology spin-off that creates sophisticated microelectromechanical sensors.
He belongs to multiple civic groups, including the Boys and Girls Club, Initiative for Global Development, Catholic Relief Services and advisory boards for engineering and business at UW-Madison and the University of Washington. As a lifelong citizen activist, Smukowski has led a variety of nonprofit organizations focused on leadership, youth, environment, transportation, AIDS orphans and poverty.
With his wife, Patricia, Smukowski has two daughters. Caitlin is studying biology at the University of Pennsylvania. Anna is studying finance at New York University.
David K. Swanson—MSEE ’72, PhDEE ’76
Chief Technical Officer
ESTECH Cardiac Surgery Specialists
San Ramon, California
David K. Swanson is an inventor on more than 250 U.S. patents, all of them issued since he turned 40. As the chief technical officer for ESTECH since 2005, Swanson is the link between surgeons and the company. His interaction with technical and medical communities allows him to see new applications for technology, which lead to patents. His role as mediator between the developers of medical devices and practitioners is a result of his dual background in engineering and physiology.
Swanson grew up outside of Belvidere, Illinois, on a farm. His family was poor, but his parents—who had only 12 years of education combined—prized education: Of the eight children in the family, five have advanced degrees. His background fixing and working with farm equipment gave Swanson an intuitive sense of how things work. He studied physics at Northern Illinois University. While working as a tutor, Swanson met a bright chemistry student, and 39 years later, he and his wife, Anne, are still married.
After graduating, Swanson and Anne moved to Madison for graduate school. Swanson obtained his PhD in electrical and computer engineering and his masters in physiology, and Anne obtained a PhD in biochemistry.
They remained in Madison. Anne did cancer research and became a professor at Edgewood College, while Swanson became a scientist with what then was the cardiac surgery team at UW Hospital. One of his important roles was to act as a bridge of knowledge for incoming surgeons—his advising aided the smooth transition of two lead surgeons on the transplant team.
Offers from industry lured Swanson to Minnesota in 1988, where he developed defibrillator technology for Cardiac Pacemakers Inc. He created an energy-efficient defibrillation method, which enabled the development of smaller, more efficient implantable defibrillators.
In 1992, Swanson moved to California to work as senior research and development director at Boston Scientific Corporation (BSC). While at BSC, Swanson filed the majority of his patents, and he still holds the record at BSC for most patents.
At BSC, Swanson worked with electrophysiologists, who are cardiology specialists focusing on diagnosis and treatment of abnormal heart rhythms. He consulted with physicians from many countries, traveling to Europe and Israel multiple times.
Though Swanson has lived in California for more than a decade, he still isn’t used to green grass in the winter. One benefit from the lack of snow is a long growing season—He enjoys gardening and cooking. He walks about three miles a day and is a Badger fan.
Faculty and staff honors
The College of Engineering honored 22 engineering faculty and staff members for their outstanding contributions and achievements at its 2008 Appreciation Day celebration May 8, 2008, including six who received Distinguished Achievement Awards from the college.
Giri Venkataramanan believes that learning involves doing. A hallmark of his classes is the balance of instructional material with practical application. Within his project-based pedagogy, his students gain hands-on experience building products from battery chargers to wind turbines. On evaluations, students describe his courses as “a pleasure,” “a class that really makes you think like an engineer,” and “the most practical, applicable course I’ve ever taken.”
In addition to practical projects, he is known for his knowledgeable, fluent and engaging lectures—which he typically delivers without having to refer to notes, even in a 75-minute class. A colleague tasked with assessing Venkataramanan’s teaching said, “I was struck by his mastery of both the course content and the instructional materials.” Unimpressed with available textbooks, he prepares notes in the form of technical papers to complement his lectures.
Students on campus and off know they always can find help and advice from the man they call “Professor Giri.” He is remarkably invested in his students, quick to respond to E-mail, and available to help any student who seeks it. He also makes a special effort to interact with distance-learning students, videotaping all his lectures for off-campus pupils.
Venkataramanan is a member of the electrical and computer engineering curriculum committee, was a member of the UW-Madison provost’s committee on evaluating and developing campus-wide guidelines for resources for teaching and learning excellence, and has given more than 40 presentations and workshops about interdisciplinary teaching.
While on a recent sabbatical, Venkataramanan participated in wind-turbine-building projects in rural areas of four countries. His experiences inspired him to develop curriculum that allows students to explore community-based sustainable energy solutions. In spring 2007, he taught a section of Introduction to Engineering (InterEgr 160) that focused on small-scale wind turbines. Students in the course not only learned about the engineering principles of wind energy but also built wind turbines. Such coursework is the beginning of a movement toward a Certificate in Engineering for Energy Sustainability, an initiative that Venkataramanan is spearheading.
“I think that these projects can be seen as a new application of the Wisconsin Idea to integrate research, teaching and outreach in energy conversion in a way that can attract and energize students to use engineering to change lives,” says a colleague. “I think that Giri is opening up a new context for engineering education that realizes and renews the traditions of our university.”
With pioneering contributions that span both experimental and computational studies, Rolf Reitz is a world leader in modeling liquid sprays. As a result of his contributions, researchers in academia and industry have made significant advances in internal combustion engine design and performance.
In research of fuel-injected engines, the complexity of fuel-spray behavior and the sheer number of variables—fuel-injection speed, drop size, air flow, drop velocity, and others—restricts researchers’ ability to fully understand the physics of the process. Yet, this very understanding plays an important role in increasing engine efficiency and decreasing emissions. At UW-Madison, Reitz and colleagues focus heavily on diesel engines through the Engine Research Center.
Informed by his experimental research, Reitz has developed computer models that have enabled researchers worldwide to more reliably predict spray behavior. His 1982 paper, “Mechanism of atomization of liquid jets” (authored with Princeton University Mechanical Engineering Professor Frediano Bracco), established a mathematical framework for capturing the physics of liquid spray atomization. It remains the standard reference used to describe diesel spray atomization.
Five years later, Reitz and Ramachandra Diwakar of General Motors Research Laboratories authored the paper, “Structure of high-pressure fuel sprays,” which introduced the element of drop breakup and significantly improved the reliability and accuracy of spray modeling. However, near-nozzle conditions affect diesel spray modeling and Reitz’s 1998 paper, “Modeling the effects of fuel spray characteristics on diesel engine combustion and emissions,” with then-graduate student Mark Patterson, provides extensive refinements to his earlier computational fluid dynamics model. This latest model was key to useful and accurate results.
Aided by his models, Reitz has pioneered the use of computational fluid dynamics to understand basic physical processes and practical methods for reducing emissions and improving fuel economy. “Professor Reitz’s spray modeling approach has quickly gained a worldwide acceptance as a robust modeling approach for atomization and sprays,” says a research colleague. “A testimony of the quality of his work is demonstrated by the fact that all commercial computational fluid dynamics software, as well as all open-source computational fluid dynamics software used for modeling two-phase, chemically reactive flows have incorporated Professor Reitz’s spray modeling approach.”
Reitz earned his PhD in 1978 from Princeton University. Before joining the mechanical engineering faculty at UW-Madison in 1989, he spent six years at the General Motors Research Laboratories, three years as a Princeton University researcher, and two years as a researcher at the New York University Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
Since joining the College of Engineering in 2001, Greg Nellis has built a reputation as a respected cryogenics researcher. However, his true passion is teaching.
He is a leader in incorporating modern software-based analysis tools into the undergraduate curriculum. He has co-organized several workshops on using Engineering Equation Solver (EES), and his use of EES, MATLAB and Maple software in both his undergraduate and graduate courses allows students to explore complex, real-world problems within thermodynamics and heat transfer. In the absence of a heat transfer textbook that employs software tools, he and Mechanical Engineering Professor Sanford Klein are writing one, scheduled for publication in 2009.
Nellis also overhauled the courses he teaches by writing his own comprehensive notes and homework problem sets, with an emphasis on applied problems and practical solutions. His main goal is to galvanize his students to learn. In his lecturing, he uses familiar examples, such as contact lenses or icy windshields, to illustrate complex principles.
Says one colleague, “He is the epitome of well-organized and efficient when it comes to course management. When I look for a model of how to design, organize and execute a course, I always think first of Professor Nellis.”
The first time Nellis taught Engineering Measurements Laboratory (ME 368), a required course, he re-wrote the entire manual and replaced the traditional prescriptive projects with open-ended experiments he developed himself—all in the span of one winter break.
With his self-designed homework, efficient lectures, technology use and his commitment to quickly replying to student queries at any time of day (or night), Nellis has turned some of the most dreaded courses in the mechanical engineering curriculum into the highest-evaluated the department has ever offered. In their evaluations, his students consistently assert, “The best class I have ever taken,” “The best teacher I have ever had,” “My favorite class,” and “Give this man a raise!”
“I completed Professor Nellis’ course with the skills and confidence that I could approach real heat transfer problems, apply a range of techniques, and be confident about the level of precision of my solution,” says a former student. “There is little greater an educator can give to those who plan to make a career in solving and understanding technical problems.”
Nellis previously received a 2006 Pi Tau Sigma distinguished professor award and a 2007 Polygon award for teaching.
An interactive teacher, James P. Blanchard uses technology to engage students both on campus and around the world.
After he joined the UW-Madison faculty in 1988, Blanchard began using a new method for teaching computing to engineering students. Rather than emphasize writing and debugging compiled programs, he taught advanced mathematical software such as Maple and MATLAB to help students understand how they can best use it to solve realistic engineering problems. He developed the course Engineering Problem Solving I (NEEP 271) to help students learn to use this software. In addition, he transformed the course from a primarily lecture-based course to an interactive learning experience in which he speaks briefly and then allows students to solve problems cooperatively. Ultimately, this course (and a related course in civil and environmental engineering) prompted computer science faculty to develop a similar course for other engineering departments.
Blanchard also developed an advanced version of NEEP 271 that could be delivered effectively over the Internet to students in the Master of Engineering in Professional Practice (MEPP) program. Since its inception in 1995, Blanchard has been involved extensively in the nationally recognized distance-learning program. He was a member of the program planning committee, helped to design the curriculum, serves on the MEPP admissions committee, and teaches in the program. More than 200 students have taken his course, Engineering Problem Solving with Computers (EPD 470). “Jake’s balanced teaching approach reinforced the fundamentals while allowing each student the ability to technically drill deeper in areas that directly impacted our professional work discipline,” says a MEPP alumnus.
To develop EPD 470 for engaging online delivery, Blanchard and other MEPP faculty and staff used such technologies as “Moodle” for course management, “LiveMeeting” for web conferences, “Camtasia” for taped mini-lectures, and “Docushare” for file management. He also created short videos to help market MEPP and has uploaded some of them to the popular video-sharing website YouTube.
As director of the college Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) unit, his contributions included improving CAE facilities; increasing the number of information-technology staff, and expanding student access to engineering software. Says a colleague: “Through his leadership and the innovative efforts he has initiated in technology-enhanced instruction, Jake has already had a positive instructional influence on thousands of students on our campus—and that influence will extend to many thousands more in coming years.”
From before they enroll at UW-Madison to beyond their graduation, Kelly R. Burton strives to create a positive, personal experience for underrepresented minority graduate students in the College of Engineering.
She joined the college in 1999 to implement GERS, the Graduate Engineering Scholars Program. At that time, based on Rice University Professor Richard Tapia’s mentorship model, GERS began as a five-year pilot program with the UW-Madison Graduate School. Its goals were to increase underrepresented minority enrollment in and graduation rates from graduate programs within the college. “When I ask a chemical engineer from Puerto Rico or a black mechanical engineer from Tennessee what motivates them to come to Madison, they often respond that, although it is the merit of our departments that drew them to UW-Madison, it is the feeling that they would be cared for and belong to a community that made them feel like they could live in Madison,” says a current student. “None of that exists without Kelly.”
Burton recruits students, tracks their applications, and connects them with a faculty member whose research interests match their own. Before the students arrive on campus, Burton ensures they have funding for the duration of their degree program. Through lectures, workshops, social events and regular group meetings, she demonstrates her commitment to the emotional, physical and mental well-being of each student. “Kelly has helped to foster a tightly knit, supportive community among the GERS students that erases feelings of isolation that many diversity students encounter,” says a former student. “As a result, diversity students are more likely to complete their graduate studies at UW-Madison.”
Under Burton, GERS is accomplishing its initial goals. In the college, enrollment of underrepresented minority graduate students increased from 18 in fall 1999 to 51 students in fall 2005; from 2000 through December 2007, 32 students earned MS degrees and 19 students earned PhD degrees. Of those PhD recipients, four accepted faculty positions, two are postdoctoral fellows, and 13 are working in industry, government agencies or at national labs. The Graduate School has promoted the GERS model to other UW-Madison schools and colleges; as a result, the College of Letters and Science, School of Education, and jointly the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences and the School of Medicine & Public Health have worked with Burton to establish similar programs. Says a colleague: “She knows the field of diversity not only in theory, but in practice, and not only in her head, but in her heart and on the ground as well.”
Each day, for more than 30 years as a program associate with the Department of Engineering Professional Development, Diane L. Lange has focused on meeting people’s needs.
Since joining EPD in 1977, Lange has supported almost 2,000 continuing education courses and worked with more than 20 program directors. When a program director schedules a course, the arrangements fall to Lange. She works closely with the speakers, interacting with them daily to set up transport and lodging, put together course materials such as brochures and handouts, and make sure the classroom is outfitted with any resources and technology the speaker needs.
Working under the pressure of planning numerous conferences, Lange has built a reputation for helpfulness and professionalism. She demonstrates patience and efficiency when handling varied needs and unexpected glitches. Her resourcefulness and unflappable demeanor ensures a positive experience for program directors, conference organizers and participants. “Diane exhibits considerable flexibility, coordination skill, and persuasiveness in tasks such as soliciting information, arranging schedules, and obtaining course materials from these on-the-go, heavily committed individuals—a testament to her personal skills,” says a colleague.
Lange's consistent efficiency is even more impressive given the changes in technology over the past 31 years. What began as a job of working with typewriters and parcel post has become a juggling act of digital media, E-mail and fax. According to Lange, “The change is what keeps it interesting.”
Although she enjoys the challenge, a large part of Lange’s motivation comes from pride in representing UW-Madison and the College of Engineering. As a liaison between staff and faculty in the College of Engineering and outside speakers and course participants, she feels a strong sense of responsibility. “If I do a good job, it’s a good reflection on the department,” she says.
And the image she reflects is stellar. “Diane epitomizes the professionalism, organization, and effectiveness required in a position which extensively interacts with the outside community,” says one speaker. “Diane has been an essential contributor to the success of the conferences sponsored by the College of Engineering.”