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Elevating our research leadership, planning for spring commencement

In summer 2013, we were excited to announce the Wisconsin Materials Institute, created under the Materials Genome Initiative for Global Competitiveness, a White House effort to double the speed with which the country discovers, develops and manufactures new materials.

In late-February 2014, we shared news of UW-Madison's participation in a $320 million initiative to create and apply cutting-edge technologies to advance U.S. global competitiveness in manufacturing. Funded with $70 million from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Digital Lab for Manufacturing will develop innovative digital tools that will enhance the efficiency and lower the cost of manufactured products across their life cycle.

UW-Madison is a research partner with the Digital Lab, which will be the nation's flagship research institute for digital manufacturing and design innovation. The investment is part of U.S. President Barack Obama's vision to reinvigorate U.S. manufacturing through an initiative called the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.

Our participation in this initiative will help position the college as a national leader in advanced manufacturing and offer many opportunities to collaborate with colleagues in the partner academic institutions and in industry.

You also may have seen our college Research Innovation Committee's second call for proposals. This call for proposals expands on the first round of initiatives designed to advance the College of Engineering's leadership in realizing engineering knowledge for the future. Among the three types of proposals the committee is seeking is proposals that can lay out a vision for a five- to 10-year program in advanced manufacturing. I encourage you to look for this call and strongly consider submitting a proposal in any of the three areas.

Finally, I told you in a past message from the dean that the College of Engineering will be hosting a formal commencement ceremony May 17 for graduating engineers.

We are holding this ceremony in addition to the UW-Madison graduation at Camp Randall Stadium. All bachelor's and master's recipients can participate in that university-wide ceremony beginning at noon on May 17. The UW-Madison ceremony for doctoral and professional degree candidates will occur at 5:30 p.m. May 16 at the Kohl Center.

The College of Engineering commencement ceremony and reception is intended to include graduating engineering students at all levels—regardless of whether they are earning a bachelor's, master's, PhD or other professional engineering degree.

This ceremony will take place May 17 at the Kohl Center and will offer a more formal, personalized graduation experience from the College of Engineering. In the company of their classmates, our graduates will walk across the stage, hear their names read, shake hands with their department or program chair, and have a professional graduation photo taken. Kohl Center door will open May 17 at 1:45 p.m. for the reception. The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. and conclude at approximately 5 p.m.

We hope this event will be a memorable commencement our students can share with their classmates, faculty, family and friends. Please encourage your graduating students to participate and to RSVP for the event by visiting

In addition, we will need many volunteers to help make our commencement successful. These positions include marshals, greeters and ushers, people to help decorate, and people to fill other needs. I hope you will consider giving a few hours of your time. Look for details about how to get involved in these activities soon. Thank you for everything you do to contribute to the excellence of our college and of our students' educational experiences!

Ian Robertson