College honors 16 at Oct. 26 Engineers' Day festivities
In recognition of their outstanding contributions to fields ranging from nanotechnology and information management to medicine, materials and agriculture, the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering will honor nine influential alumni. These engineers, executives and entrepreneurs will receive their awards Oct. 26 at an evening banquet during the 60th annual Engineers’ Day celebration.
During the banquet, the college also will recognize seven faculty and staff members for their contributions and excellence in such areas as education, healthcare, student services, research and more. For more details about the event, visit the Engineers' Day website.
This year, the Oct. 26 Engineers' Day celebration will include the dedication of the Mechanical Engineering Building. The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. in the building atrium.
Early-Career Achievement Award
Matthew F. Laudon—MS ’93, PhD ’96, mechanical engineering
Cofounder, Clean Technology and Sustainable Industries Organization
Co-founder and executive director of business development, Nano Science and Technology Institute
Matt Laudon grew up near the University of Missouri, which he attended for his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. While there, he read a magazine article about advances in microtechnology, a field that focuses on small high-tech advances, from microphones to air bag sensors. The story highlighted work by UW-Madison engineers, and since Laudon’s grandfather was a UW-Madison professor (and several other family members had attended the school), he investigated it as a possible fit for his own graduate work.
A visit to the school helped Laudon decide. He completed master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from UW-Madison before taking jobs with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne, Motorola in Los Alamos National Laboratories, and several Boston-area startups that focused on micro- and nanotechnology commercialization and partnership development.
Laudon since co-founded several companies, including the Nano Science and Technology Institute, a worldwide nanotechnology community providing nanotechnology, scientific, commercialization and investment events, courses and consulting; and TechConnect LLC, which brings together university tech-transfer offices and early-stage technology companies with corporate business developers and venture capital investors. Most recently, he started the non-profit Clean Technology and Sustainable Industries Organization (CTSI), which aims to advance the commercialization and global adoption of clean technologies and sustainable industry practices. To meet these objectives, Laudon works with a community of industry, academic and government leaders who are committed to a safer, cleaner and more productive world.
Laudon has published more than 30 technical publications and patents in topics that include nanotechnology, semiconductors, microsystems and optics.
He is married to Sylvia Avulah-Laudon, an engineer who is currently in medical school. They have two children (both born in Madison); son Avinash is 13 and daughter Nina is 11.
While his work and child-rearing occupy much of his time, he occasionally rows on Lake Quinsigamond, near his home in suburban Boston. “Rowing has saved me a couple of times on the east coast,” Laudon says of a sport that is popular with many young professionals in the Boston area. “I’ll be in meetings with guys from Harvard and MIT, and they’ll joke, ‘He’s from the University of Wisconsin. But they have a good crew team, so he’s OK.’”
Distinguished Achievement Awards
Jeffrey H. Curler—BS ’73, chemical engineering
Chairman and CEO
Bemis Company Inc.
As a boy, Jeffrey Curler spent Saturdays at his father’s packaging plant in New London, Wisconsin. While his dad, the late Howard Curler (BSChE ’48), worked at developing a new flexible polymer film for cheese packaging, Curler performed what he called “rather crude science experiments” with scraps of plastic and matches. This early fascination with the properties of plastic developed into a passion for chemistry and math, leading Curler on a lifelong pursuit of new materials and techniques for the flexible plastic packaging industry.
Curler graduated from UW-Madison (where he never missed a football game) with a chemical engineering degree in 1973, then joined Bemis Company Inc., which in 1965 had acquired his father’s business, Curwood Company Inc. Curler worked as an engineer in new product development, and his hands-on knowledge of the company plants and labs served him well when he was named CEO of Bemis in 2000.
Thousands of products—from food and consumer goods to manufacturing and medical devices’are sold wrapped in Bemis packaging. Under Curler’s leadership, the company has become the No. 1 maker of flexible packaging material in the Americas, operating 31 manufacturing facilities in 13 states in the United States and 24 foreign plants in nine countries. Bemis employs 16,000 people worldwide and posts annual sales of more than $3.5 billion. The company, among the 10 largest in Wisconsin, employs nearly 3,500 people in the state.
Curler is particularly proud of the Bemis reputation for excellence. In March, the company tied for first place on the Forbes list of the top-10 most trustworthy U.S. companies, and it has been named to the Forbes Platinum 400 List of America’s Best Big Companies every year since the list started nine years ago.
As Bemis nears its 150th anniversary in 2008, and Curwood prepares for its 50th anniversary that same year, Curler remains focused on bringing innovative products to the packaging marketplace.
Curler and his wife of 35 years, Lea, have four daughters. Erin, 31, is an editor in Manhattan. Gina, 28, is expecting Curler’s first grandchild in Colorado. Katie, 25, is a public relations specialist at Bemis. Laura, 22, is a senior at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Two of his daughters (Gina and Katie) received their graduate degrees from UW-Madison, which, says their father, “gave me an excuse to make it to a few more Badger games.”
Michael F. Davy—BS ’69, civil and environmental engineering
President, Davy Engineering Company
Manager, Davy Laboratories
La Crosse, Wisconsin
At age 10, Michael Davy earned one silver dollar an hour when he began assisting with field surveys for his family’s consulting and engineering company, Davy Engineering Co. By the time he started courses at UW-Madison, his hourly rate had increased as he drafted engineering plans and led survey crews.
Four generations of the Davy family studied in the UW-Madison Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to prepare for work with the family company. Davy’s grandfather, Frank, started the company in 1929. Ten years later, Frank’s son, Philip (Davy’s father), joined the company. Davy’s son, Mark, 36, currently is the company vice president.
A division of the firm, Davy Laboratories, began providing water and wastewater analysis in 1976. Its chemists and biologists currently provide services for more than 80 municipalities in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. The firm’s philosophy dictates direct project involvement by the principals, leading them to a conscious decision to avoid branch offices, limit the geographic area where services are offered, and limit services to areas where the principals have demonstrated expertise, says Davy. For him, it means that he continues to work as a project engineer while also serving as the company president since 1988.
During his professional career, Davy has been involved in more than $450 million in construction projects. He also is active in professional and technical societies, including the National Society of Professional Engineers, as well as the Wisconsin chapter.
Davy spends leisure time each summer on his 45-foot houseboat After You, which is docked a half-mile from his office and 2 miles from his home. He and his wife of 39 years, Joyce, motor to various islands along the Mississippi River for quiet camping weekends.
For the last 10 years, Davy and his wife have spent part of the winter on the north shore of Kauai in Hawaii. Davy logs into his computer each morning, then hits the waves for swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling.
In addition to their son, Davy and his wife have two daughters. Katherine, 33, is a physical therapist in Grey’s Lake, Illinois. Jennifer, 30, works as a registered nurse in Minneapolis. The couple also has three granddaughters and two grandsons.
Davy’s one career regret? Not hanging on to those silver dollars his grandfather initially paid him when he began work at age 10.
Donald C. Erbach—BS ’65, mechanical engineering
Retired national program leader for engineering and energy
U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service
As a boy, Don Erbach spent mornings and evenings milking cows on his family’s 80-acre diversified dairy farm. While he enjoyed farm life in New Holstein, Wisconsin, milking was what he calls “a thrill you can get over pretty fast.” He dreamed of creating a more mechanized milking process. After earning bachelor’s degrees in agricultural engineering and mechanical engineering from UW-Madison in the 1960s, and while working on a graduate degree in ag engineering, he designed a device that would remain on cows for long periods to ease the milking process.
His device didn’t take off, but throughout his career his interest in agriculture and engineering has remained steadfast. Erbach began work in 1966 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Ames, Iowa. He spent 23 years as an agricultural engineer with the unit before becoming research leader of the USDA Soil and Water Conservation Research Unit.
Later, he applied his soil and crop production research knowledge at the ARS National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Iowa and as laboratory director and research leader with the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory in Auburn, Alabama. In 1999, he moved to the ARS headquarters outside Washington, D.C., where as national program leader for engineering and energy, he led agency programs in bioenergy and crop production research.
As a research engineer, he has authored or coauthored more than 200 publications on his work in agricultural soil compaction, crop residue management, weed and insect control, and conservation tillage. He has served on various agricultural task forces, including a White House science and technology policy task force. He has consulted on soil compaction management in Europe, participated in a science exchange in China, consulted on conservation tillage projects in Argentina and Hungary, and served as a visiting researcher for a tillage and energy study in Australia.
Erbach retired in September 2006. Since his retirement, he has been invited to speak on bioenergy at several conferences in North America and Europe. In June 2007, he became president of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He also officiates golf tournaments—a sport he has enjoyed since learning to play as a graduate student in Madison.
He and his wife, Sharon, have been married for 42 years. They have two children, three granddaughters and two grandsons. Their son Don is a public affairs consultant in Little Rock, Arkansas. Daughter Adrienne is agriculture branch chief with the White House Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C.
Stephen E. LeBeau—PhD ’82, metallurgical engineering
President and CEO
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Stephen LeBeau grew up in Bark River, Michigan, a rural Upper Peninsula town so small that he jokes that the local chicken and cattle population outnumbered residents. However, there LeBeau became intrigued with engineering, after watching a film about engineering careers during his junior year in high school.
A year later he followed his older brother Dan to the Michigan Technological University (five other siblings also attended college, becoming the first generation in his family to complete post-secondary schooling). Initially, LeBeau focused on chemical engineering, but he so enjoyed a course in materials engineering his sophomore year that he switched majors and graduated with a degree in metallurgical engineering.
He completed graduate work at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and worked briefly for the Caterpillar tractor company in Illinois. While his job was satisfying, LeBeau recalls a gnawing inclination to complete his doctoral degree. Wooed by a number of prestigious engineering schools, he selected UW-Madison for its cutting-edge research, renowned faculty and strong engineering disciplines. LeBeau, a hockey fan since his college days in northern Michigan, also enjoyed cheering the Division 1 Badgers team.
After graduating in 1981, he spent nine years at the U.S. Steel and Babcock & Wilcox corporate research facilities, where he worked closely with their manufacturing divisions. He then shifted his focus to smaller high-tech companies located in the Detroit metro area, working his way into corporate management positions.
In 1998, LeBeau joined Thixomat Inc., which uses a patented technique for transforming magnesium chips into a smooth, pliable semi-solid. When heated nearly to its melting point, magnesium becomes a lightweight, yet strong, material that can be molded for use in a variety of consumer products, including computer housings, auto parts, fishing reel components, and high-end sun-glass frames. Thixomat has licensed the technology to more than 50 companies worldwide.
While living near Madison, LeBeau and his wife, Becky, purchased a two-person tent. As their family grew, they graduated to a pop-up trailer and continue to enjoy camping in northern Michigan with their children, including sons Andy, 25; David, 19; and Charlie, 7; and daughters Maria, 23, and Laura, 21.
LeBeau’s recreational pursuits in Madison also included a one-credit class in golf. He earned an A for the course, but muses: “My current handicap suggests I must have somehow misled my former professor with my potential golfing skills.”
Edwin A. McKinnon—PhD ’72, engineering mechanics
Retired vice president of technology
General Carbide Corporation
Edwin McKinnon was a lifelong resident of Nevada and a lecturer at the state university in Reno when he broadened his search for graduate schools to include a dozen universities in the East. He accepted a teaching assistantship at UW-Madison because of its strong program in solid mechanics. In 1972, he completed his doctoral degree in engineering mechanics with the guidance of his major professor and mentor, Bela Sandor.
McKinnon then accepted a position as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. For the next three years, he guided a number of graduate students through their thesis work, authored eight published articles, and was recognized for outstanding teaching.
He went on to spend most of his career working for two metallurgical companies in southern Pennsylvania and on the East Coast. In the 1980s, while at the tooling components company Kennametal, he helped build, staff and manage a new carbide powder manufacturing facility in Henderson, North Carolina—an experience he calls “a highlight of my career.”
In 1993, McKinnon joined the General Carbide Corporation, where he became vice president of technology. General Carbide manufactures carbide components used for tools and dies and tool-cutting industries, and also provides components to concrete and steel industries.
Prior to McKinnon’s retirement in 2005, the Cemented Carbide Producers Association recognized him for more than 30 years of service to the carbide industry.
He and his wife, Nancy, have two daughters. Kristin Friedline, 31, is a nurse anesthetist in Virginia. Jill Mando, 27, works in sales and marketing in the beverage industry in Pennsylvania. She is the mother of McKinnon’s 2-year-old grandson, Ty Albert—a popular subject for one of McKinnon’s hobbies: photography.
McKinnon is a church elder at the Latrobe Presbyterian Church. He also has spent the last two years studying German. He and Nancy, who recently retired from teaching high school German and journalism, plan to spend more time traveling. In September, they spent two weeks in Germany and Austria.
Dorin Panescu—MS ’91, PhD ’93, electrical and computer engineering
Principal Staff Scientist
St. Jude Medical Inc.
Dorin Panescu’s father is a former high school physics teacher and, when Panescu was an intensely curious fifth grader, his father showed him how a radio transmits sound waves. “That demonstration,” Panescu says, “opened up a new world of thinking for a 10-year-old boy.”
In 1989, when communism fell and opportunities for far-flung travel and education finally opened to Eastern Europeans, Panescu began considering a doctoral degree from an American university. A year later, the 28-year-old engineer left Romania to interview at several U.S. engineering schools, including UW-Madison. He recalls an instant rapport with Biomedical Engineering Professor John Webster, who shared Panescu’s passion for medical instrumentation.
At his job in Romania, Panescu had worked on manufacturing electronic temperature regulators and other instruments similar in architecture to medical devices. That background proved useful in Webster’s lab as he pursued electrical modeling research on cardiac implant devices.
After earning his PhD in 1993, Panescu left Wisconsin for northern California to join EP Technologies. He then spent eight years with Boston Scientific, where he was recognized three times for his patent milestones. To date, Panescu is the inventor or co-inventor on 129 U.S. patents—most related to cardiac catheters, as well as hardware and software for a variety of medical imaging, diagnoses and therapy systems.
In 2005, Panescu joined the cardiac rhythm management division at St. Jude Medical Inc. His work focuses on two devices: implantable heart defibrillators designed to treat potentially lethal arrhythmias, and pacemakers, devices that send electrical signals to help the heart beat in a regular rhythm. (Coincidentally, earlier versions of these types of devices also were the thrust of his research at UW-Madison.)
Panescu has two daughters from his first marriage. Julia, 20, is a psychology student at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Priera, 16, is a junior in high school. Each summer they lead their dad on a trip—most often Disneyland or Disney World. But as they have matured, so have their travel tastes and recently, the trio traveled to London, Paris and the coast of the Black Sea.
Panescu also returns occasionally to his hometown, Deva, located in western Romania. Several years ago he traveled there to celebrate his father’s 70th birthday. During that trip, to Panescu’s happy surprise, he met an accountant named Luminita. The two married last year.
Andrew T. Rensink—BS ’79, mechanical engineering
President and CEO
West St. Paul, Minnesota
In 2004, while contemplating his next career move, Andrew Rensink and his wife, Shirley, embarked on an adventure akin to Huckleberry Finn’s. With their collies, Blues and Jazz, they boarded their 34-foot cruiser Galileo in New Orleans and traveled across the Gulf of Mexico to Mobile, Alabama. Then they pointed the bow north.
For three months, they followed rivers like watery highways as they made their way to Minneapolis. Each day, they completed about 50 miles, a pace that gave them time to dock and visit Civil War sites or explore small towns on bicycles that they stashed on the boat. As they traveled, usually at a speed of about 8 knots, Rensink considered his past and future engineering career.
He grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin, where he often spent time on the job with his father, who directed operations at an assembly automation company. In 1979, Rensink graduated from UW-Madison with his mechanical engineering degree, then joined General Electric. For nearly a decade, he helped design and manufacture a range of products, from aircraft engines to appliances to CAT scan machines. At night, he studied with the General Electric education program, earning the equivalent of an MBA and a master of science in electrical engineering.
In 1991, Rensink joined Osmonics, a provider of fluid purification products. In 12 years, he helped Osmonics grow from $40 million to more than $200 million in annual sales. He then moved to Pentapure, a small water-filtration startup company. During Rensink’s four years as vice president of operations, Pentapure annual sales grew from $3 million to $44 million.
After Pentapure was sold, Rensink planned to take a year off work to explore rivers and spend time at his cabin on Lake Pepin in Minnesota. But when Galileo pulled into its final port, another opportunity quickly arose. He became president and CEO of Tapemark, a pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturer that serves a number of Fortune 100 companies. Tapemark is privately held and Rensink was the first person hired from outside the 55-year-old company to direct the operation.
The Rensinks have two sons, both of whom have inherited their father’s creative mind and adventurous spirit. Matt, 25, is a carpenter in the Twin Cities. Tom, 24, is a UW-Madison physics graduate. Tom spent the last year teaching English in France and, in summer 2007, toured Europe. He chose a different method of travel from his dad, however: moving by bicycle, not boat.
Jeffrey D. Wiesner—BS ’83, industrial engineering
During the last eight decades, attending UW-Madison has become the norm for members of Jeffrey Wiesner’s family. In 1931, Wiesner’s grandfather graduated with his bachelor’s degree from the university. His grandmother, who studied sociology, followed two years later. In 1957, their son—Wiesner’s father—completed a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. That same year, Wiesner’s mother finished her nursing degree.
Wiesner, who grew up in Neenah, Wisconsin, studied industrial engineering at UW-Madison and graduated with honors in 1983. There, he met his wife, Sara, who earned degrees in secondary education and political science. Currently, their 19-year-old son, Colin, is enrolled as a sophomore in the engineering college.
Today, Wiesner’s dedication to UW-Madison continues. Throughout his 20-year career at management consulting company Accenture LLP, he maintained strong ties with the College of Engineering. For 10 years, he was responsible for on-campus recruiting for the firm, working closely with Engineering Career Services, engineering faculty, and the University of Wisconsin Foundation. He also coordinated the Accenture charitable outreach program for UW-Madison alumni. He was instrumental in developing the freshman introduction to engineering curriculum and the Women in Science and Engineering program. He also served five years on the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Industrial Advisory Board.
While at Accenture, Wiesner specialized in managing large-scale management information systems projects for manufacturing companies. He traveled worldwide in support of clients based in the United States, as well as France, Germany and Brazil.
Before retiring in 2002, Wiesner was a partner in the firm in charge of Accenture’s SAP software practice for automotive and industrial equipment companies in North America. He continues to connect with the university as a new member of the Wisconsin Alumni Association board and as a visiting mentor for the Accenture Leadership Center. This center was founded in 2006 within the UW-Madison business school to provide opportunities for undergraduate students to develop leadership skills outside the classroom.
Outside the university, Wiesner chairs the Waukesha Education Foundation, a volunteer organization that raises funds for the Waukesha public schools. He also is a member of the boards of the United Way of Waukesha County and the Waukesha County Community Foundation. In addition to son Colin, Wiesner and his wife have another son, Dillon, 16, and a daughter, Brenna, 14. Both attend Waukesha West High School.
Faculty and staff honors
The College of Engineering recognized 21 engineering faculty and staff at its 2007 Appreciation Day celebration May 8, 2007.
The Benjamin Smith Reynolds Award for Excellence in Teaching
Passion is a defining trait of Professor Frank Fronczak’s teaching style. Since joining the College of Engineering in 1983, he has been instrumental in expanding the product design curriculum to help students transition from study to practice.
His enthusiasm, which, according to one student, “effuses from every pore,” has made Fronczak a driving force in developing and teaching the design curriculum in the mechanical engineering department. He teaches the courses ME 349, Senior Design, and ME 549, Product Design, and also regularly instructs ME 545, Fluid Power. More than an instructor, he has been active in expanding the design curriculum into multiple semesters of coursework and serves on the department design division curriculum committee and the college academic programs, curriculum and regulations committee.
In his design courses, Fronczak faces the challenge of guiding students through open-ended and largely self-directed projects. His students and colleagues alike hail his methods of giving students input and advice while allowing them to experience project management themselves. “He would not just tell us what the better design was; rather, he made us fully realize the problem and come up with the solution ourselves,” says a student.
Fronczak strives to make subjects not only understandable, but also interesting. He uses hands-on models and relatable examples to teach complex engineering principles, such as bubble nucleation explained through carbonated beverages, and encourages students to explore concepts in assignments such as small group projects. Says a colleague: “I have great respect for his ability to energize the audience, to pique their interest in the material, and to present it in such a way that the students leave the class with enthusiasm and a clear understanding of the subject.”
Also high on Fronczak’s priority list is making himself approachable and available for students outside of the classroom. He gives his time to any students who ask for it, even staying on campus after hours to work with struggling design groups.
Fronczak also has advised the UW-Madison student section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers since 1989.
Fronczak has received three Polygon Teaching Awards, two Pi Tau Sigma Distinguished Teaching Awards and the SAE Teetor Award. He was made a member of the Wisconsin Teaching Academy in 2004. Says one student: “His creative assignments and ability to inspire are why I will not forget what I have learned in his class—even if I never see another hydraulic pump for the rest of my life.”
The Byron Bird Award for Excellence in a Research Publication
To honor his skill at developing both methods and materials, Eom received the 2007 Byron Bird Award for Excellence in a Research Publication for a series of three publications that have become standards in the fields of thin-film deposition and electrical connections in oxide electronics. His innovation, insight and cheerful personality have earned respect from colleagues across the globe.
The first publication, Eom’s 1989 PhD paper, described a new deposition technique—90 degree off-axis sputtering—for high-temperature superconducting thin films. Before this revolutionary work, thin films were low-quality and plagued by defects. Today, off-axis sputtering is widely used to make high-quality complex oxide thin films from complex materials for both commercial and research purposes; Eom’s paper has been cited nearly 300 times.
The second and third papers detail a class of metallic oxide for electrical contacts that Eom developed using off-axis sputtering. The first of these two papers describes the general class of ruthenate-based materials and the second focuses on one compound in particular, SrRuO3, as an electrode for ferroelectric devices.
Until then, platinum electrodes often were used in ferroelectric devices, but the polarization decayed with cycling. Ferroelectrics grown on Eom’s material did not lose polarization, and SrRuO3 is still one of the best electrode materials for ferroelectric and oxide electronic devices.
The method and materials described in these papers enabled researchers to overcome some of the greatest problems in thin-film epitaxy and helped turn oxide thin-film research into the thriving field that it is today.
“These three publications describe truly pioneering research that is simultaneously remarkably mature, comprehensive and visionary,” says a colleague. “What these papers have in common is a focus on fundamental scientific questions that—through absolutely first-rate experiments—turn out to have great potential technological impact. As you can see, Chang-Beom Eom truly has a nose for great, impactful science!”
The Ragnar E. Onstad Service to Society Award
An estimated 100,000 deaths occur every year in the United States due to medical error at a cost of nearly $30 billion. As an expert in human factors engineering and director of the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement, Carayon has studied error and its causes in a variety of healthcare settings, such as outpatient surgery, intensive care units, information technology, medical devices, medication administration, and working environment for healthcare professionals.
One hallmark of Carayon’s research is her dedication to collaboration. In her healthcare-related projects, she partners with professionals in the area of interest to gain a complete understanding of the contributing factors. “Carayon is a leader and a mentor to those that work with her,” says a colleague. “A true collaborator, she seeks out all of the voices and values all perspectives: physicians, nurses, technicians, unit clerks, information technology specialists and administrators.”
Carayon offers her expertise as an engineer to the healthcare professionals with whom she works, including editing and publishing the Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care and Patient Safety, now the standard text on the application of human factors engineering to patient safety. As a result of her input, healthcare providers can practically apply concepts of human factors engineering to patient care situations, such as improving patient flow in ambulatory surgery centers or assessing the usability of computerized provider order entry systems.
Carayon has not only pursued research opportunities within healthcare but also has volunteered with local, national and international organizations to help reduce medical errors and improve patient safety. Among these activities, Carayon is a member of the Madison Patient Safety Collaborative—the only member not to be affiliated with a healthcare organization. With colleagues in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, CQPI, the School of Medicine and Public Health, the School of Nursing, and the School of Pharmacy, she developed the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and designed a short course on human factors engineering and patient safety that has become an annual event for healthcare quality and patient safety administrators across the country.
The James G. Woodburn Award for Excellence in Teaching
Applying a teaching philosophy that engages and inspires each student, Civil and Environmental Engineering Associate Professor Chin Wu has turned one of the most difficult and dreaded undergraduate environmental courses in the department into one of the most anticipated. His students frequently punctuate course evaluation forms with such comments as, “Best teacher I ever had,” “Cared about how every student did,” “Made complex ideas easy to understand,” and, “We love you, Wu!”
He is a highly accomplished theoretical, numerical, laboratory and field researcher in environmental fluid mechanics, focusing on air-sea interactions, physical-chemical-biological interactions in inland lakes, and contaminated sediments in rivers and lakes. To teach the fundamentals of fluid mechanics, Wu marries the language of applied mathematics with practical physical demonstrations that bring immediate relevancy to the abstract concept at hand.
Wu captures students’ interest—even when the topic seems less than interesting. He compiled a series of videos, Observations of Life in Fluids, that students in his course produced. These videos bridge the mathematics of fluid mechanics with examples of real-world fluids. He redeveloped his undergraduate lab course to include computer-aided experiments that allow his students to more effectively see and study fluid behaviors, and he implemented sophisticated flow visualization techniques so that students could see the beauty of fluid flow and more deeply understand its mechanics. “The professor did not allow a single student to get away with doing any less than the best work they were capable of,” says a former student who credits Wu with shaping his own educational path. “For students like myself, many were able to realize more potential as an engineer.”
Wu regularly provides out-of-class small-group tutoring, meets one-on-one with students to ensure they understand the correct answer to every incorrectly answered exam question, and hosts drop-in consultations at virtually any hour of the day.
He has been a mentor for the Wisconsin Multicultural Mentor Program and the Summer Collegiate Experience Program. He advises the UW-Madison Concrete Canoe Team and frequently performs math and science demonstrations in K-12 classrooms. Wu counts among his many teaching honors six consecutive Polygon outstanding instructor awards, five outstanding civil and environmental engineering professor awards from students in the UW-Madison chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and, most recently, the UW-Madison “Class of 1955” teaching award.
The Harvey Spangler Award for Technology Enhanced Instruction
In Professor Larry Bank’s courses, students don’t just learn engineering technology—they use technology to learn engineering. To excite, educate and empower his students, Bank has integrated into his undergraduate and graduate courses such familiar (to them) communication technologies as Voice over Internet Protocol, Internet video conferencing, instant messaging, interactive forums, and collaborative project posting and review tools. He encourages students not only to use the Internet as a source of inspiration and information, but to understand, analyze and communicate what they’ve read to the entire class. “This creates a collaborative learning experience, breaks down barriers between individuals, promotes confidence, teaches standards, encourages a work ethic, and empowers the students,” says Bank.
For the past three years, he has taught CEE 794, Architecture/Engineering/Construction Global Teamwork Project-Based Learning Course, with Renate Fruchter, director of the Stanford University Project-Based Learning Laboratory. This unique, elite interdisciplinary course joins students worldwide in a cyber classroom; using Internet-based communication tools, they work in teams to design and showcase a 30,000-square-foot virtual building.
In spring 2006, Bank launched a “live-over-the-Internet” course duo in collaboration with Marquette University Associate Professor of Civil Engineering Chris Foley. Using Internet 2 and Polycom for the video feed and NetMeeting for visual materials, Bank taught CEE 649, Structural Design With FRP Materials, to campus (UW-Madison) and remote (Marquette University) graduate students. Foley then taught CEE 740, Structural Analysis III, in the same manner, giving both sets of students real-time interaction with a single instructor. Not only did the courses create a cost-effective alternative for offering traditionally low-enrollment grad-level courses at both institutions, but also received high student evaluations.
Capitalizing on an opportunity to introduce students to the rapidly evolving, revolutionary field of building information modeling, Bank created the CEE 698 course section, Building Information Modeling, in late fall 2006 and debuted it in spring 2007. Students collaboratively learn BIM software and engage in discussions with leading local industry professionals about how they are adjusting to this new technology in their own practices. Says a colleague: “He is not simply using technology for the sake of it, but rather leveraging it to improve the quality and relevance of the learning experience, while at the same time, exciting and motivating the students to learn.”
The Bollinger Academic Staff Distinguished Achievement Award
Talk with any of the students whom Ann Morris has helped to transfer into the College of Engineering, and you’ll hear a common sentiment: “I couldn’t have done it without her help.”
A 40-year college employee who retired this summer, Morris directed the College of Engineering transfer admission program. In that capacity, she built a reputation among colleagues at campuses throughout the state as a role model for the way engineering transfer advising and admission should be done. With her caring, one-on-one approach, staggering knowledge base, and strict attention to detail, Morris provided thousands of both domestic and international students a seamless transition into the college.
She reviewed about 500 transfer applications annually and was the college liaison to the UW-Madison offices of the registrar, orientation and new student programs, admissions, intercollege programs, and international student services, among other departments. Within the college, she helped shape, define and implement academic policies, procedures, rules and regulations and helped study-abroad students choose courses that meet their degree requirements.
For more than 20 years, Morris led efforts to recruit transfer students and deliver to them the best college experience possible. She cultivated personal relationships at colleges around the state: Each fall, she visited almost 20 campuses around Wisconsin to speak with faculty, staff and students about the College of Engineering and its programs. She described admission requirements and advised, via phone or E-mail, at least 200 students across the state each year.
Morris was instrumental in developing a dual-degree program that enables chemistry, math and physics students at 10 UW System campuses to study three years at their home institution and two years in the College of Engineering and earn a bachelor’s degree from each institution. In addition, she wrote and regularly updated the booklet, “Tips for Transfers,” an advising tool also implemented in other UW-Madison schools and colleges, UW System campuses, Madison Area Technical College, and Edgewood College.
Morris is best known for the attention she devoted to each person. “Ann’s level of professionalism is marked by a willingness to problem-solve and then research each question that is presented to her by each individual she encounters,” says a colleague. “This rare quality, combined with her accrued wisdom, service orientation, and general kindness, has made Ann an extraordinary member of the college community. The hallmark of her service is her commitment to students, individual by individual.”
Classified Staff Distinguished Achievement Award
Roxi Beisel possesses a kind of internal radar—a sixth sense for hazards in an otherwise smooth process. Countless times, she made phone calls, placed friendly reminders, and offered trouble-shooting advice that kept publications on deadline, deliveries on target, and payments in the proper amount and account.
The secret behind her 30-plus years of productive and efficient university service is her dedication to people. Every day, Beisel addressed dozens of questions and problems that came to her from all directions, tapping her vast store of contacts, as well as years of university knowledge and experience, to develop solutions.
This fall, Beisel retired from her position as program assistant in the Engineering External Relations Office (EER).
In addition to queries from media, industry, and academic and governmental agencies, EER receives calls from people who are unsure where to turn for answers in the vast UW System. With her friendly manner and even temperament, Beisel handled all of those questions, and more—ensuring that callers’ first impressions were positive and all encounters productive. By listening carefully, she helped clarify each inquiry, minimizing frustration and saving time and effort.
Beisel applied her many people and organizational skills to help EER navigate myriad mysterious university processes. Where most people saw receipts, forms and requisitions, she saw the people behind the paper. In most cases, she understood where a document originated, who generated it, and exactly what it was meant to achieve. When that meaning wasn’t clear or documents sent out became lost at sea, Beisel was adept at reeling them in. She regularly spotted problems in process that could derail a project or cost the college time and money.
The Engineering External Relations Office is charged with improving recognition of the College of Engineering as a world-class institution for education and research. Beisel’s incredible efficiency and dedication enabled EER staff to focus on that goal. She was a resource at every stage of many projects—from the College of Engineering annual report, alumni newsletter Perspective, and individual departmental newsletters to Innovation Days, Appreciation Day, alumni receptions, building dedications, and Engineers’ Day.
Beisel lives in Pickerington, Ohio, with her husband, Mike. Her son Jeff and daughter-in-law Jennifer live close by. Daughter Amanda is volunteering as a missionary in the Czech Republic.