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2006 faculty and staff awards


College of Engineering faculty and staff awards for 2006 were presented at the second annual Spring Appreciation Celebration held May 2. Recipients of the College of Engineering annual awards each receive privately funded stipends and permanent recognition on a plaque in Engineering Hall. Each winner is chosen by a committee of his or her peers.

Photo of David Zimmerman. The Ragnar E. Onstad Service to Society Award
David R. Zimmerman

Industrial and Systems Engineering

Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering David R. Zimmerman is passionate about improving the quality of care for nursing home residents around the world. Through countless interactions with long-term care consumers, providers, advocates and regulators, he works to bridge the gap between research and applied efforts to enhance residents' lives. He frequently interacts with federal policymakers on long-term care issues. His research guides the policy; his practical experience has resulted in more rational regulation and advancements in nursing-home industry quality-improvement initiatives. BIO

Photo of Debra K. Schiess. Classified Staff Distinguished Achievement Award
Debra K. Schiess

Academic Affairs

During the course of her work day, Academic Affairs Office Administrative Assistant Debra K. Schiess might encounter scores of interruptions from faculty, staff and students. She cheerfully answers their questions, then efficiently completes her other duties, which range from managing budgets and personnel tasks to coordinating schedules and checking the DARS reports for nearly 700 engineering students who hope to graduate. BIO

Photo of Donald Woolston. The Bollinger Academic Staff Distinguished Achievement Award
Donald C. Woolston

Mechanical Engineering

Assistant Dean of Engineering General Resources Donald C. Woolston is an expert at helping new and prospective College of Engineering students feel welcome and at ease on campus. Every summer, he meets with hundreds of incoming freshmen during SOAR; every school year, he advises hundreds of students entering the college. He co-teaches a course to help first-year students better relate engineering to their own interests; to help them succeed in engineering, he and his staff implemented extensive academic support programs and now use conferencing software to chat with students online and share applications in real time. BIO

Photo of Jay Martin. The Benjamin Smith Reynolds Award for Excellence in Teaching
Jay K. Martin


His students say Professor of Mechanical Engineering Jay K. Martin is one of the most accessible, dedicated teachers they have ever had — someone who instilled ethics and pushed them to do better work than they ever imagined they could. But perhaps the greatest testament to his dedication as an instructor is his energetic pursuit of ways in which he and others can improve teaching and learning. Among his endeavors, he is an active member of the UW-Madison Teaching Academy and an advocate of the concept inventory approach to teaching, which provides students immediate feedback on their comprehension of the material. BIO

Photo of Sanford Klein. The Byron Bird Award for Excellence in a Research Publication
Sanford A. Klein

Chemical and Biological Engineering

Based on some of his own frustrations with the small role computers seemed to play in solving problems, Professor of Mechanical Engineering Sanford A. Klein developed the Engineering Equation Solver. This software program has fundamentally changed the way in which researchers in the thermal sciences approach problem solving. It allows a user to input a series of equations, and provided that enough independent equations are supplied, the software returns the solution. In addition, it has built-in functions that provide thermophysical properties with unprecedented accuracy. More than 200 engineering departments use the software, which also is bundled with several engineering textbooks. BIO

Photo of Regina Murphy. James G. Woodburn Award for Excellence in Teaching
Regina M. Murphy

Chemical and Biological Engineering

To students of all ages, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Regina M. Murphy is not only an enthusiastic, engaging and effective teacher, but also is a mentor valued for thoughtful, insightful input on everything from teaching philosophy to academic integrity. She transformed one of her department's introductory courses, replacing a lecture-based format with an active learning experience that incorporates in-class problem-solving and a group design project. Then, from her course notes, she developed a textbook to accompany the course. She also maintains an active mentorship program with select Madison public schools and is both a formal and informal mentor to faculty in her department and women throughout the university. BIO

Photo of Erick Oberstar. Harvey Spangler Award for Technology-Enhanced Instruction
Erick L. Oberstar

Engineering Physics

Mechanical Engineering Assistant Faculty Associate Erick L. Oberstar recognized a need for greater efficiency in and accessibility to laboratory experiments for both on- and off-campus students. As a result, he developed a set of web-based experiments that students can conduct from any location, using real lab-based hardware. The experiment system is a physical implementation, with live data and video feedback. Students have access to 11 different user interfaces, or web pages; each experiment enables them to download different parameters to the system, which then uploads live performance data. Each user interface provides students with graphs of live performance data and a downloadable file of their data. Students have 24/7 access to this system. BIO