University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering

Select initiatives that support the UW-Madison strategic framework

Provide an exemplary undergraduate education

Engineering Beyond Boundaries (EB2) has been the college focal point of alignment with the campus educational innovation effort. Led by the EB2 task force, consisting of faculty educational leaders in the college, the overall EB2 effort has a seven-year history and provided a natural college-to-campus connection when the campus moved aggressively toward a coordinated educational innovation effort. Under the leadership of EB2, the college is a campus leader in the development and adoption of blended learning. In response to the college Academic Planning Council’s commitment to expanding blended learning and the use of technology in undergraduate education, more than three dozen college courses are blended or in the process of incorporating the use of technology to achieve new levels of effectiveness and efficiency in instruction.

The Wisconsin Collaboratory for Enhanced Learning (WisCEL), created in repurposed former book storage space in Wendt Commons, provides an alternative classroom space that better allows instructors to adopt a new paradigm of individual-focused, technology-enhanced teaching strategies. WisCEL places heavy emphasis on technology and immediate, frequent feedback for students. WisCEL also is distinguished by its flexibility, offering a combination of both teaching space and much-needed group study space for engineering students.

Two new programs to promote student innovation were launched in 2012. The Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge rewards bold student thinking that will drive efforts to protect and preserve our changing planet in the 21st century. And Perkins Coie LLP partnered with UW-Madison to offer a $10,000 year-end Innovative Minds award designed to recognize a student team that has developed the most viable plan for launching a commercial venture.

A new course is responding to the strong demand for formal leadership training—a demand coming from students, alumni, and prospective employers. InterEgr 103: Core Competencies in Engineering Leadership centers on the social change model of leadership development, which requires leaders to incorporate individual, group and societal values to achieve positive change. This course is designed to help future engineers apply their technical skills in an increasingly complex professional environment where non-technical issues play a major role.

Reinvigorate the Wisconsin Idea

Engineering Professional Development launched Camp Badger for Teachers, an extension of the popular Camp Badger, a series of one-week, experiential learning camps for students entering eighth grade. Teachers observed how Camp Badger students learn about engineering through field trips, job site visits, hands-on activities, and small group discussions, and identify ways to integrate engineering core ideas and practices into their curriculum.

Led by electrical and computer engineering Professor Amy Wendt (with Professors Susan Hagness and Steven Cramer), the NSF-funded project Society's Grand Challenges for Engineering as a context for middle school STEM instruction is bringing engineering modules into Wisconsin middle schools. Middle school is when students start making key choices about their academic future; this program exposes students to the humanitarian applications of the engineering profession. The curriculum approach may especially influence girls' interest in engineering in high school and beyond. The program began with research-oriented adoption of the instructional modules at six cooperating Wisconsin middle schools.

Biomedical Engineering Professor David Beebe will streamline methods for preparing patient samples such as blood and urine for point-of-care diagnostics in developing countries, thanks to a grant through Grand Challenges in Global Health, created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His project addresses bottlenecks in diagnostic testing and laboratory analysis occurring in sample preparation. The project will harness the tremendous improvements in the area of downstream detection and analysis technology, making tests faster and less expensive.

The startup company SHINE Medical Technologies, founded on advances from the UW-Madison fusion program, reached a major economic development milestone in 2012—announcing it will open an $85 million manufacturing plant in Janesville that will employ more than 100 people. The plant will produce the isotope Mo-99 for use in medical imaging. The isotope, Mo-99 is the most widely used radioisotope in the world with one diagnostic test every second of every year (30,000,000 per year). Greg Piefer, an engineering physics alumnus, founded the company to commercialize the fusion driven subcritical fission reactor he developed with the help of the Morgridge Institute for Research, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and the departments of Engineering Physics and Medical Physics.

One of the oldest and most respected polymer engineering research and educational programs in the United States is contributing its expertise to a new plastics university in India. Representatives of the UW-Madison Polymer Engineering Center signed a memorandum of understanding in February with the Plastindia Foundation and the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. The three entities will collaborate to develop curricula for the Plastindia International University.

The student Engineering Expo committee and various other engineering student organizations received a Baldwin Wisconsin Idea grant to promote math, science, engineering and robotics with state elementary, middle school, and high school students. This outreach effort focuses on low-income schools and provides the opportunity for students to attend the 2013 Engineering Expo, learn about robotics through teamwork activities, and ultimately increase their understanding and enthusiasm for learning engineering, math and science.

Invest in scholarly domains in which we have existing or potential strength

UW-Madison surpassed a major milestone in efforts to be an international leader in renewable energy with the completion of the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI) building, which will serve as the hub for more than $75 million in interdisciplinary energy-based research conducted annually at the university. Combined with the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), the formation of the UW Energy Institute and the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative, UW-Madison now has a highly integrated, collaborative strategy for addressing energy challenges.

The College of Engineering Academic Planning Council formally approved a new industry R&D initiative called the Wisconsin Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (WIMI). The institute will foster greater statewide interdisciplinary collaborations between faculty, students, and industry on manufacturing issues across campus to address the new challenges facing the manufacturing economic sector. WIMI will help leverage more than $50 million in annual investments in research, education and outreach activities related to manufacturing to provide a major impact on Wisconsin’s manufacturing competitiveness.

Also under the theme of educational innovation, Engineering Professional Development launched the new online Master of Engineering in Sustainable Systems Engineering (SSE) program, which is designed to educate mid-career engineers in sustainable engineering practices and prepare them as leaders in managing systems that impact the quality of water, land, air, energy, economics, and society. In addition, SSE focuses on the technical aspects of three specializations—energy production and distribution, facilities and built environment, and public infrastructure. Several other revenue-generating online master’s programs are offered or in development.  

Recruit and retain the best faculty and staff and reward merit

The college is aggressive in its approach to faculty hiring and retention, and has set a goal of retaining 90 percent of all faculty approached with outside offers from academia.

Engineering places a strong emphasis on philanthropic initiatives to create more endowed faculty positions and help support faculty and graduate students. In 2012, the college reached a total of 38 endowed professorships across its eight academic departments.

The college has a strong track record of landing National Science Foundation awards to help advance the work of faculty early in their careers, and a strong tradition of investing internal resources in start-up labs. With the new awards in 2012, the college has 120 faculty recipients of NSF Presidential Young Investigator, PECASE, or CAREER awards.

Enhance diversity to ensure excellence in education and research

The College of Engineering has a comprehensive diversity program that engages students from 8th grade through graduate education and includes summer residential programs for more than 400 students annually. The Engineering Summer Program, which prepares high school juniors from underrepresented backgrounds for success in undergraduate engineering, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012.

In 2012, new initiatives were launched to recruit and retain women students in engineering, including a professional development series with topics of managing and leading people, financial planning for women, and work/life balance.

Two privately supported diversity scholarship initiatives enjoyed important milestones in 2012. The Rockwell Automation Diversity Scholars graduated its first two students from its four-year full-ride support program. In addition to financial assistance, the program offers hands-on internship opportunities at Rockwell. Also graduating its first engineer is a program funded by alumnus Rod Hassett, which encourages students from Milwaukee’s Rufus King High School to pursue engineering at UW-Madison.

The college is the administrative home to the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI), a campus-wide program that addresses roadblocks to women’s academic advancement is nationally recognized and conducts research and training across the United States.

The Graduate Engineering Research Scholars (GERS) continued its national leadership in attracting talented minority graduate students to study with world-class UW-Madison engineering faculty and achieve their goals for higher education in science, technology, engineering and math. Since 2000, more than 50 students in GERS have earned PhD degrees through the college. In comparison, fewer than 350 minority students have earned PhDs nationwide in the past decade, according to the American Society for Engineering Education 2009 edition of Engineering by the Numbers.

Be responsible stewards of our resources

Engineering differential tuition has made a profoundly positive impact on the quality, availability and affordability of undergraduate education. The biggest impact to date has been on eliminating bottlenecks in many high-demand courses, especially those required for students to advance into degree programs. Since instituting EDT, 2,340 additional seats have been opened in high-demand engineering courses, eliminating delays and allowing students to stay on track in curriculum progression. The program has enabled the college to respond to top student priorities with targeted investments, such as more hands-on opportunities, supplemental instruction, and state-of-the-art technology in Engineering Shops and undergraduate labs. In addition, private funding support covers differential costs for all students who have financial need.

Using intelligent building automation software, Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Carol Menassa and colleagues are using the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery as a living laboratory for improving building energy efficiency. The team is collecting data to learn more about occupants’ energy usage, then applying the information to verify and validate the designers’ assumptions about how the building and its systems should work. More importantly, they hope to understand how building occupants and their behavior will affect building performance.

Student advising continues to be coordinated through centralized pods that provide student services to multiple departments. The pods have achieved a high level of efficiency by accommodating growing enrollments with few added staff positions.

UW System undergraduate and graduate program review procedures in the college have been revised to better leverage other accreditation efforts and reduce faculty efforts required to conduct the reviews. New software is being phased in with the help of the campus assessment council to streamline reaccreditation efforts.