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MESPRING / SUMMER 2010

Mechanical Engineering Department


College of Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison

A newsletter for alumni, students and friends of the ME department

Wisconsin From plastics to people: Bionates team transfers


cast-metals polymer processing to tissue-scaffold engineering
manufacturing
S
ix years ago, Professor Lih-Sheng (Tom) Turng and then-PhD student Adam Kramschuster
benefits from (MS ’05, PhD ’08) brainstormed how to use their expertise in polymer processing to
make a larger difference for society. Out of their discussions came the idea to transfer
$10 million federal grant polymer fabrication techniques to the field of
tissue engineering—and the pair are now part
of a major interdisciplinary project expected to

T
he National Institute of Standards yield a new process for mass-producing tissue
and Technology (NIST) has scaffolds within three to five years.
awarded a $10.1 million, five- The project, called Bio-Nanocomposite
year grant to an interdisciplinary team of Tissue Engineering Scaffolds, or Bionates, is
researchers led by Professor Xiaochun Li. one of five proposals included in the Wisconsin
The researchers are working to implement Institute for Discovery (WID), a public institution
nanotechnology into the traditional casting at UW-Madison focused on enhancing human
industry, which could yield high-quality health and welfare through interdisciplinary
aluminum and magnesium nanocomposites research. (The private Morgridge Institute for
in the next five years. Research complements WID.) Human mesenchymal stem cells attached and grown
The grant, from the NIST The Bionates team will develop and study on nanocomposite scaffolds seven days after seeding.
Technology Innovation tissue engineering scaffolds, which are biological
Program, is one of 20 substrates used for constructing human tissue
innovative projects in new outside of the body. The scaffolds are used in
technologies that address conjunction with specially designed micro-
critical national needs. environments, which help guide how stem
Li The UW-Madison project, cells differentiate into various cell types and
titled “Transformational casting technology then grow into tissues on scaffolds.
for fabrication of ultra-high performance “Producing scaffold structures with material
lightweight aluminum and magnesium compositions that mimic natural tissues is not
nanocomposites,” will yield a new casting that difficult,” Turng says. “The difficult part is
technology for commercial-scale production understanding how cell-material interactions
of aluminum and magnesium matrix affect cell differentiation and cell fate.”
nanocomposites. The ultimate goal is to use these neo-tissues for a wide variety of medical treatments, including
Writing in support of the project, Wisconsin skin patches for burn victims and insulin-generating cell implants. Half a trillion dollars are spent
Governor Jim Doyle noted the potential each year in the United States alone on treatments for tissue damage caused by injury or aging,
benefit of Li’s work for manufacturers. says Turng. “Tissue engineering provides a new approach to taking advantage of a human’s own
“Wisconsin is one of the most important healing power and regenerative capabilities to grow functional tissue for use in medicine,” he says.
manufacturing states in the United States While researchers have successfully fabricated tissue scaffolds, they can only do so one at a
and is an historical leader in the metal time. Turng and his team will blend their expertise to develop a manufacturing process to mass-
casting industry for a diverse range of produce scaffolds with consistent quality and properties. This will help address a growing demand
applications,” Doyle wrote. for these scaffolds by patients and other tissue engineering researchers who need access to
(Continued on back page) custom scaffolds for various cell culture experiments.
Several manufacturing processes used to produce various plastics have potential for use in

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mass-producing tissue scaffolds. A patent-pending injection molding process developed in the
(Continued on page 1 2)
www.engr.wisc.edu/me
Chair’s Message
Chair’s Message www.engr.wisc.edu/me
Michael D. Graham

3065 Mechanical Engineering Bldg. Phone: 608/262-5745


1513 University Ave.
Madison, WI 53706
Fax: 608/265-2316
engelsta@engr.wisc.edu
From plastics to people:
(Continued from front page)
Roxann Engelstad
UW-Madison Polymer Engineering Center,
which Turng co-directs, is particularly promising.

S
pring 2010 has been a busy time the department and representative of the high “The scaffold itself can be made of synthetic or
for the ME Department. Our students caliber of our faculty’s work. natural polymer materials, and there’s a one-to-
have continued to improve both Turng developed the WID project with the one correspondence between polymer processing
in their classroom and lab activities, and our help of one of his former graduate students, and scaffold fabrication methods,” he says.
faculty members have grown to excel in new an example of the rich history of our students’ Led by Turng, the Bionates team includes
research areas, covering a wide range hands-on involvement with department Engineering Physics Professor Wendy Crone;
of innovative technologies. research. The current generation Biomedical Engineering Associate Professors
This newsletter high- of students is not only up- Shaoqin “Sarah” Gong, Kristyn Masters and
lights several examples WE’D like to hear from you! holding this history but Bill Murphy and Assistant Professor Wan-Ju Li;
of our expanding demonstrating its own Physiology Professor Tim Kamp and Medical
research program. Please send updates about your particularly innovative History and Bioethics Associate Professor Linda
Professor Xiaochun promotions, honors, family news, etc., abilities. Our second Hogle. Kramschuster, an assis-
Li and his team are to perspective@engr.wisc.edu or annual ME Under- tant professor of engineering
putting the Wisconsin to the mailing address above. graduate Research and and technology at UW-Stout,
Idea into action by imple- Design Showcase put rounds out the current team,
menting nanocomposites into these abilities on display which will expand to include
traditional casting methods (see front (see p. 6), and one group of students more faculty members and
page). Professor Neil Duffie’s partnership won a national innovation award for a medical researchers in the coming years.
with Minnesota-based LasX is another example device project they completed as part of a “We’ve found good synergy in Turng
(see p. 5). This blending of cutting-edge senior design course (see p. 7). combining material scientists, mechanical engi-
technology with well-established industrial Our students don’t only brainstorm and neers, cell biologists, and biomedical researchers
procedures is a trend we plan to continue. build new mechanical devices for class to work together to develop and fabricate scaffolds
Our faculty members also are poised to assignments—many of them develop inventions with desirable attributes,” says Turng.
have a major impact on societal problems in their spare time! The department is well An important component of Bionates is its
with their research. Professor Tom Turng represented in many UW-Madison competitions, public outreach efforts. “WID is a major state
is using polymer-processing techniques to including Innovation Days, the Climate initiative, so we need to garner support and
mass-fabricate tissue scaffolds (see front Leadership Challenge and the G. Steven Burrill educate the general public about the kind of
page), which could significantly benefit Business Plan Competition. One of our graduate positive impact this research is going to have
developments in the medical field. This students, Chris Meyer, even made the final on human health,” Turng says, explaining that
program is part of the Wisconsin Institute round of the Wisconsin Governor’s Business including social science and humanities researchers
for Discovery (WID), a new public facility Plan Contest (see pp. 6-7). on the team will help the scientists translate their
that supports interdisciplinary research to We thank the alumni and friends of the work to a broader audience, going beyond scientific
benefit human health and welfare. That Turng department who have helped support our publications to include exhibits and the arts.
is leading one of the five groups forming efforts, and we invite you to let us know your “We want to show the value this team brings
the intellectual heart of WID is an honor for own exciting news. to campus and society as a whole.”

Nellis named Kaiser Chair in Mechanical Engineering The textbook integrates


modern computer tools

A
ssociate Professor Gregory Nellis his students have successfully built various with traditional heat transfer
has been named the Elmer R. devices to validate his models. theory and allows students
and Janet Ambach Kaiser Chair In addition to his research, Nellis is a to tackle difficult and relevant
in Mechanical Engineering. The five-year dedicated teacher. He diligently prepares problems. “In summary,
professorship promotes and recognizes lectures for undergraduate and graduate Professor Nellis is
excellence in teaching and research in the courses and personally grades all homework dedicated as much as
Department of Mechanical Engineering. assignments. Students note his thoroughness humanly possible
A world-class expert in thermodynamics and consistently give Nellis some of the best to providing
and heat transfer, Nellis has developed models evaluation scores in the department. In 2009, outstanding
to explain and optimize system performance Cambridge University Press published the teaching,”
for a wide range of energy systems. Nellis is textbook Heat Transfer, which Nellis co-authored writes a
also a talented experimentalist, and he and with Ouweneel-Bascom Professor Sanford Klein. colleague.

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years since I left Wisconsin to embark on my
own career, yet even today, hardly a day goes
by that I do not think of Sam,” says Richard
DeVor (BS ’67, MS ’68, PhD ’71), who was Wu
doctoral student No. 13 and is now a professor
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
ME department DeVor, along with Warren DeVries (BS ’71,
chair Roxann MS ’73, PhD ’75) and Jun Ni (MS ’84, PhD ’87)
Englestad and led the fund-raising effort for the lecture hall.
Dean Paul Peercy It’s estimated that 25 percent of those in
with members of academia who teach or study manufacturing
the Wu family. are intellectual descendents of Wu. Their ranks
include members of the National Academy
of Engineering, chief executive officers, and
‘The Sawtooth’ dedicated as Sam Wu Lecture Hall professors in manufacturing and mechanical
engineering around the world.
Many of Wu’s graduate students spent their

O
n April 7, 2010, more than two dozen College of Engineering alumni and friends days studying in a corner of ME known as “the
gathered for an emotional event in the Mechanical Engineering Building to dedicate a Sawtooth,” which is where the Shien-Ming
lecture hall in memory of the late Professor Shien-Ming (Sam) Wu. (Sam) Wu Lecture Hall is now located.
Wu began his faculty career at UW-Madison in 1962 after earning his PhD from UW-Madison “It’s a testament to Professor Wu’s influence
in mechanical engineering. In 1966, he established and became the first division chairman of the that so many of his students followed in his
Production Engineering Division, where he began making his extraordinary lifelong contributions footsteps through a career in higher education,”
to manufacturing science and engineering. In 1971, Wu was instrumental in establishing the says Professor and Chair Roxann Engelstad.
North American Manufacturing Research Conference, which to this day is the world’s leading “It also shows how far Professor Wu’s legacy
forum on manufacturing research topics. In 1987, he established the influential Manufacturing extends into the present and future.”
Research Center at the University of Michigan, which is now named in his honor. 
Wu earned extensive recognition for his teaching and research over the years, including a
Society of Manufacturing Engineers National Education Award in 1974; a University of Wisconsin
Distinguished Teaching Award in 1977; and the Chiang Technology Achievement Award in 1991.
The Chiang award is equivalent to the Chinese “Nobel Prize” in manufacturing engineering.
Incidentally, Wu was the first person to lead a delegation of production engineers to the People’s
Republic of China in 1979. 
Wu guided 120 students to their doctoral degrees, the majority of whom graduated from UW-
Madison. Those engineers describe him as an unbelievably hard worker and an excellent teacher.
“Sam Wu was a great teacher whose mentorship of students was driven by the example
he set—imagination, determination, hard work and high standards. It has been more than 35 Attendees at the Sam Wu Lecture Hall dedication.

‘Dr. Jay’ receives college teaching award homework to make sure he was keeping in
touch with what they were learning. “Jay

O
n May 4, the College of Engineering When he took over Samuel has had an extraordinarily positive
recognized an outstanding lineup MSE 350: Introduction influence on the quality of teaching in the
of faculty and staff who directly con- to Materials Science in college—not by talking about quality teaching,
tribute to the college’s excellence in teaching, the mid-1980s, he co- but by doing it,” says a colleague.
research and service. This year, Senior Lecturer developed an innovative Samuel Samuel averages 1,500 student contact
Jay M. Samuel was recognized with the James computer program to grade hours per year, and undergraduates appreciate
G. Woodburn Award for Excellence in Teaching. the homework sets of the more than 150 his thorough, hands-on approach. Though
Samuel joined UW-Madison in 1979 and was students enrolled in the required course every high-enrollment classes generally receive
appointed a senior lecturer in the Departments semester. His program, which was the first poor student feedback, students acknowledge
of Mechanical Engineering and Materials computer-grading program in the college, Samuel to be an outstanding teacher. Evaluation
Science & Engineering in 1984. A dedicated included statistics to indicate which concepts comments range from the formal, “This
teacher, he has instructed thousands of students were struggling to understand. professor made learning the material enjoyable
students early in their engineering education, When a newer campus-wide computer and interesting,” to the more affectionate,
and through the years he has remained an grading system was introduced, Samuel “Dr. Jay is money,” and, “Dr. Jay rocks.”
effective—and memorable—lecturer. reverted to hand-grading all of his students’

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FACULTY NEWS

A team including Professor Mechanical engineering faculty will participate in a project spearheaded by Delphi
Xiaochun Li has designed a way Corp that has received an almost $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of
to harvest small amounts of waste Energy. Faculty from the Engine Research Center and members of the Wisconsin
energy to turn water into usable Engine Research Consultants, founded by Wisconsin Distinguished Professor
hydrogen fuel. The simple and efficient Rolf Reitz (top) and Professor Chris Rutland, will work with Delphi, Hyundai America
process was published March 2 in the Journal Technical Center, and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, to demonstrate
of Physical Chemistry Letters. The team is a new high-efficiency vehicle concept of a low-temperature gasoline combustion
led by Xuifang Xu, a UW-Madison assistant system that could significantly improve light-duty vehicle fuel economy.
professor of geoscience and crystal specialist.
Researchers in the Multiphase Flow Visualization and Analysis Laboratory working
Universitatea Stefan cel Mare under the direction of Professor Tim Shedd have been recognized by the journal
(Steven the Great University), in Measurement Science and Technology. Their paper, titled “Two-zone analysis of
Suceava, Romania, has awarded wavy two-phase flow using micro-
Mead Witter Foundation– particle image velocimetry (micro-PIV),” was In April, the fifth International
Consolidated Papers Professor of Controls selected as one of the top 25 papers in 2009. Conference on MicroManufacturing
Engineering Bob Lorenz with an honorary DuWayne Schubring, a nuclear engineering was held on campus. The conference
doctorate in recognition of his contributions PhD graduate and now an assistant professor generated 86 technical papers
to the development of electrical drives at the University of Florida, led the effort, from 20 companies and captured the attention
and power converters. Lorenz visited the working with the results from experiments of a record number of companies that
university in late May to receive the degree initiated by mechanical engineering PhD attended and displayed products and services.
and deliver a keynote address at the Inter- graduate Daniel Rodriguez and extended Associate Professor Frank Pfefferkorn served
national Conference on Development and by mechanical engineering master’s degree as the conference chair. View a video about
Application Systems. graduate Rory Foster. the conference at tinyurl.com/2ex3jn7.

Powertrain Control Research Lab celebrates 20+ years of vehicle research

I
n 2010, the UW-Madison Powertrain Control Research Laboratory, or PCRL,
celebrates 21 years of powertrain systems research. Amid its many technological
innovations, PCRL has remained a lab dedicated to cultivating high-caliber students.
Various hybrid designs have been explored and built in UW-Madison mechanical engineering
labs since the 1970s, but the PCRL founding in 1989 by Professor John Moskwa signaled a
major new interdisciplinary approach to hybrid vehicle design and testing.
In 2009, Moskwa and his students patented a new engine heat transfer simulator. Previously,
engine and powertrain tests on single-cylinder engines ran at a constant (steady state) speed and
temperature; however, cars on the street don’t operate this way. The new system builds upon two
previous inventions in PCRL and the lab’s ongoing work with transient single-cylinder engine test
systems, which include several patents for a test system utilizing Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL).
HIL is a synthesis of hardware, real-time dynamic computer models and control software that
replicates an entire vehicle. Japan-based Horiba currently is working with the PCRL team to
commercialize the technology.
To demonstrate how fast the system operates, Moskwa can set varying engine speeds to
musical notes, allowing a transient test system to “play” pieces such as “On Wisconsin” and one
of Bach’s violin partitas.
The influence of students is evident throughout PCRL. “I lead the big picture and help students
along the way in terms of ideas, direction and technology, but the nitty-gritty work and research PCRL single-cylinder transient test cell.
are done by students,” Moskwa says.
The nitty-gritty work includes the design of the lab itself. Moskwa’s students planned a new In the future, Moskwa would like to see the
facility in the basement of the Mechanical Engineering Building that opened in 2006. The layout PCRL team apply its expertise more broadly,
is separated into three individual test rooms, plus an electronics build-room and a power-supply such as for developing large wind turbine test
room. A separate laboratory houses computer stations for simulation work. facilities or power strategies.

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Polishing partnership combines research and industry

P
olishing the parts of a micro-device isn’t as simple as, for example, polishing a shoe him about the laser micro polishing project,
or sanding a piece of wood. Technicians maybe could polish a micro-part by hand Dinauer was glad to help.
if they had a big enough magnifying glass, but it is impossible to selectively polish To create the system, the team is testing
particular areas of the tiny components. In addition, tiny parts can’t handle as much heat as can a variety of lasers to find one with optimal
their macro-sized counterparts, meaning that too much friction could actually melt the part. characteristics for micro polishing. Dinauer
These barriers to micro polishing, which likely will become more important as nanotechnology and his engineers obtain lasers and technical
advances push the development of ever-smaller components, are the subject of a new partner- information from their suppliers, which they
ship that has received a National Science Foundation Grant Opportunity for Academic Liaison pass on to the UW-Madison researchers.
with Industry. The grant comes with a three-year award of almost $500,000. The engineering professors then study the
Professors Neil Duffie and Xiaochun Li and Associate Professor Frank Pfefferkorn are interaction of the laser with metal surfaces to
collaborating with William Dinauer (MSMSE ’90) and other engineers at LasX Industries Inc., understand how different operating conditions
a company in St. Paul, Minnesota, that provides high-performance industrial laser systems and and laser characteristics affect polishing.
contract laser-materials processing services. The team is working to identify a laser-based system
that can polish three-dimensional metal parts measuring approximately
0.16 inches or less.
They are also working to develop better
The system could also polish select areas of those parts or the metallic molds used to fabricate strategies for controlling laser polishing and
plastic micro-components. will design systems robust enough to handle
The collaboration has been more than 20 years in the making. While a graduate student, a variety of metals.
Dinauer worked for Duffie on a polishing project that involved mechanical tooling. The two “I’m pleased that we’re able to embark on
continued to work together after Dinauer graduated and was hired at the Wisconsin Center something like this with UW-Madison, and I
for Space Automation and Robotics. Dinauer’s career shifted to focus on laser technologies, hope we continue collaborations like this on
and he founded in LasX in 1998. Dinauer and Duffie kept in touch, and when Duffie contacted other laser-based projects,” says Dinauer.

Current ME endowed professorships

ME Endowed Professorships • Bernard A. and Frances M. Weideman


Professor Roxann Engelstad

T
he foundation of a world-class public research university is its faculty.
• Steven P. Timoshenko Chair
As state funding for new faculty positions and basic salary increases
Roxann Engelstad
becomes increasing difficult to obtain, private funding now plays a key
role in retaining and supporting the top faculty needed to maintain excellence. • Phil and Jean Myers Professor
Endowments also help support critical lab and research start-up packages to help David Foster
younger faculty thrive early in their careers. • Grainger Professor of Sustainable Energy
“Endowed professorships enable the ME department to honor and award faculty Jaal Ghandhi
who have made distinguished achievements in research and teaching. They also • William A. and Irene Ouweneel-Bascom
facilitate the attraction of established external faculty with international research Professor Sanford Klein
reputations to the department,” says Professor and Chair Roxann Engelstad. • Mead Witter Foundation–Consolidated Papers
“Overall, this enhances the reputation and ranking of the department and thus Professor of Controls Engineering Bob Lorenz
the College of Engineering.”
• Elmer R. and Janet Ambach Kaiser Chair
Sponsoring named professorships is a great way to make a lasting impact
Gregory Nellis
on the college. For more information, contact Debra Holt, managing senior
• Kuo K. and Cindy F. Wang Professor
director of development at UW Foundation, at deb.holt@uwfoundation.wisc.edu
Tim Osswald
or 608/263-0779 or Mechanical Engineering Professor and Chair Roxann Englestad,
at engelsta@engr.wisc.edu or 608/265-2316. • Wisconsin Distinguished Professor
Rolf Reitz
Several ME faculty currently hold endowed professorships from the ME department, • Bernard A. and Frances M. Weideman
College of Engineering and UW-Madison campus, and are listed in the next column. Professor Vadim Shapiro

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STUDENT NEWS Undergrads win BIG at innovation competition

ME Showcase highlights design and research


I
n February, ME undergraduate
students made a strong showing at

T
he second annual Mechanical the 2010 Innovation Days, an annual
Engineering Undergraduate Research UW-Madison event that rewards innovative and
and Design Showcase was held marketable ideas.
April 29 and brought together students, Junior Tom Gerold and
faculty and industrial advisory board members. his partner, Kara Anderson
Eighty-two students participated, presenting (finance), won top prize in the
26 posters about their undergraduate research Schoofs Prize for Creativity
or senior design projects. Six faculty members and more than $10,000 in
and six industrial advisory board members prizes for Apel System, an
judged the projects, awarding cash prizes to automated, self-contained system to spray fruit
the best research and design projects. trees while minimizing pesticide overspraying.
Associate Professor Frank Pfefferkorn ME junior Scott Johanek
coordinated the event. “Everyone enjoyed won third place and $4,000
themselves,” he says. “Students liked showing for TriCrimp, a lightweight,
off their work and getting feedback, the faculty pneumatic crimping tool for
enjoyed seeing the breadth of projects our steel fastening that replaces
undergraduates have been working on, and tedious hand-crimping tools
the IAB members were glad to see the students and bulky mechanical crimpers.
practice their communication skills and present Coco Stove, an inexpensive
their ideas.” cooking stove that burns
Assistant Professor Heidi-Lynn Ploeg plant oils rather than wood
“In looking at the range of projects, you can with Showcase participants.
see how they would immediately impact and charcoal stoves and could
improve people’s lives around the world—that really impresses me,” says Pfefferkorn. create a new industry in rural
Haiti. Invented by a team
Top design projects including senior Eyleen Chou. The invention won
the Younkle Best Presentation Award and fourth
• Brian Bradley, Kevin Koehler, Kiel Larsen, Andy Prell and Paul Thoresen took first place place in the Schoofs Prize, with $2,000 in prizes.
and $300 for Pressure Sensitive Toothbrush. Solar Panel Snow Removal System, a motor-
• Ken Roggow, Lisa Frank and Jennifer Levin took second place and $200 for Blue Moon powered system to “squeegee” off snow or
Work Surfaces for Powered Wheelchairs. debris without damaging the panels. Co-invented
by senior Adam Strutz, winner of the Sorenson
• Ryan Raubolt, Jake Esselman and Fred Tsai took third place and $100 for Anywhere Reader.
Design Notebook Award and $1,000.
• Honorable mention awards went to Jake Eselman, Ryan Raubolt, Matthias Beurer and Additional ME student teams included:
James Chang for Manual Wheelchair Storage and Work Surfaces; Sam Barbuch, Tim Sophomore Kyle Cooper and senior Ben
Barkley, Dan Melanx, Casey Scott and Jon Tichenor for Portable Self-Powered Water Pfeilstifter invented LEVELS, a trivia and object-
Filtration Device; and Kyle Dinse, Charlie Eakley, John Kolstad, Alex Langefels and building board game, as well as Bedside Swing,
Tom Mulholland for Mobile Water Filtration. a sleekly designed bed tray that can be swung
over a user and rotated 360 degrees.
Top research projects Dyno Charger, a portable cell phone charger
powered by a squeeze-operated generator.
• Hammad Mazhar took first place and $300 for “Simulation of multibody granular
Invented by freshman Josh Dawson.
dynamics: leveraging high performance GPU computing.”
Video Game Footpad Controller, an adjustable
• Sarah McCoy took second place and $200 for “Accuracy of bone geometry from controller that allows users with hand or arm
computed tomography.” injuries to play Xbox 360s and other video game
• Jeremiah Osborn took third place and $100 for “Modeling, optimization and consoles with their toes. Invented by senior
experimentation with a two-stage mixed-gas Joule-Thomson cryoprobe.” Matthew Endres.
• Honorable mention awards went to Brian Bradley for “Induction machine ion loss Range Extending Hitch Technology, a detachable
portioning and flux optimization study,” Bryant Mueller for “Microfluidic shear stress engine-generator for plug-in hybrid vehicles.
measurements using traction force microscopy,” and Yvonne Schumacher for Co-invented by senior Zack Ward.
“Does freezing bone change the geometry and mineral density of bone models?”

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Clean sweep again for snowmobile team

device to reduce the escalating costs of health


care, according to the judging panel.
A WALKS user can get into the device
harness from either a chair or the floor, which
is convenient for people who can’t lift them-
selves into other walking devices without the
help of a caretaker. The user then turns on the
air system, which provides a lifting force to
help patients overcome as much as 90 percent
For the second consecutive year, UW-Madison rode to the top of both divisions of
of their body weight. The air system allows
the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge, held March 15-20 at Michigan Technological
the device to bounce in a way that mimics a
University. Advised by Faculty Associate Glenn Bower, the UW-Madison team was
normal walking rhythm, which is a unique
the only team to bring both an internal combustion sled and an electric sled to the
approach as other air-supported walking
collegiate competition. For this competition, students re-engineer stock snowmobiles
systems provide a constant lifting force
to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining or boosting performance. This year,
without allowing for vertical displacement
UW-Madison significantly widened its margin of victory with both sleds. Read more at
(i.e., bouncing). Constant lifting forces impede
www.engr.wisc.edu/news/headlines/2010/Mar22.html.
a user’s natural walking gait. “The system
helps you gradually start using your legs again

A step forward: Assisted walking system wins national innovation award

A
team of mechanical engineering and build the muscles used in walking right
students won the 2009-2010 away,” says Jordan. “This is a more natural
National Innovation Award contest, form of rehabilitation.”
sponsored by the Compressed Air and Gas The CAGI award comes with a $2,500 prize,
Institute (CAGI), for a unique physical therapy and the WALKS project also earned $8,000 for
device that promotes natural walking motions. the ME department. The prize will help the team
The device, called the Weight Assisted Lifting finish the prototype, and soon the students will
and Kinesthesia System (WALKS), is the culmi- turn over the device to Kinesiology Faculty
nation of several semesters of work by different Associate Tim Gattenby, who will use it in actual
groups of students in a senior engineering therapy sessions with patients. Gattenby has
design course taught by Professor Frank Fronczak and Assistant Professor Heidi-Lynn Ploeg. advised the team throughout the project and
In previous semesters, students designed the general system and constructed frame proto- helped ensure WALKS is user-friendly.
types. During the fall 2010 semester, the award-winning team, which included students Axel “The project not only allowed our team to
Dahlberg, Jonny Jordan, Stefanie Knauf and Pat Verstegen, fabricated the final weight support gain a wealth of experience in our field, but also
system device by designing and building an automated air system. to give back in the process, producing some-
The CAGI judges were impressed with the UW-Madison team’s entry because WALKS not thing that will hopefully improve the quality of
only met the contest requirements but recognized the need and opportunity for this type of life for many people as a result,” says Knauf.

The UW-Madison Human Powered Vehicle PhD candidates Reed Hanson, Sage Kokjohn and Derek Splitter won $15,000 at the 2010 Climate
Team placed second overall in the ASME East Leadership Challenge, sponsored by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Center for
Coast Human Powered Vehicle Challenge, Sustainability and the Global Environment, for a new way to operate internal combustion engines
hosted by Central Connecticut State University with a variety of fuels. Undergraduate student Eyleen Chou was part of a team that won $10,000
May 7-9. The UW-Madison team entered for Coco Stove. Read more at www.engr.wisc.edu/news/headlines/2010/Apr22.html.
a three-wheeled recumbent vehicle that it
designed, manufactured and tested over the Graduate student Chris Meyer claimed second prize and $7,000 in the 2010 G. Steven Burrill
past two semesters. The team is advised by Business Plan Competition for Sector67, a nonprofit prototyping center and “hacker space”
Associate Professor Frank Pfefferkorn and to help members collaborate on next-generation devices. Meyer also placed in the top 12 in
Assistant Professor Heidi-Lynn Ploeg. the 2010 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

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ME NEWS is published twice a year for alumni and friends of the UW-Madison Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Editor: Sandra Knisely / Design: Phil Biebl, Engineering External Relations Paid for with private funds.

Send address changes and other correspondence to:

(Continued from front page)

Department of Mechanical Engineering


1513 University Ave.
Madison, WI 53706

$10 million federal grant (Continued from front page) “If successful, the commercial-scale produc-
tion of these metal nanocomposites will enable
“Nanotechnology, a field where UW-Madison is a recognized leader, provides opportunities to transformative changes in multiple industries
develop new materials and processes that will help our metal casting industry remain competitive and directly address the critical national needs
in existing markets and allow us to develop new global markets where the strength and weight of reducing oil dependency, lowering green-
of nanocomposites will be advantageous,” continued Doyle. house gas emissions, and maintaining U.S.
Manufacturers are increasingly turning to lightweight alu- leadership in manufacturing,” says Li.
minum and magnesium alloys, which have better performance The NIST grant will allow Li’s team to continue
and energy efficiency than iron and steel. The lighter alloys building a fundamental knowledge base and to
can be reinforced with nanoparticles, usually ceramic, which scale up the process. Li anticipates widespread
significantly enhances the material properties. However, use of his technique will produce high-quality
because nanoparticles are difficult to disperse evenly in aluminum and magnesium nanocomposites in
materials, their use in the casting industry is not widespread. the next five years. He predicts a new metal-
It is especially challenging for researchers to disperse and matrix nanocomposites industry will rise along
stabilize nanoparticles in molten metals (or melts) because with the use of nanotechnology in casting.
most melts have a large surface-to-volume ratio and are Li’s collaborators at UW-Madison include
unable to maintain contact with the solid nanoparticle surfaces Kuo K. and Cindy F. Wang Professor of
(a quality known as poor wettability). The result is the nano- Mechanical Engineering Tim Osswald and
particles clump together. Industrial & Systems Engineering Associate
In the last six years, Li’s lab has developed an experimental Professor Shiyu Zhou. The team is partnering
technique that uses high-intensity ultrasonic waves to disperse with Wisconsin-based Eck Industries Inc., the
A magnesium nanocomposite the nanoparticles through the melts. The waves cause micro- Oshkosh Corporation, and Houston, Texas-
cast sample. bubbles to form, grow and collapse within the material. The based Nanostructured & Amorphous Materials
collapse of the microbubbles produces microscopic “hot spots” Inc., as well as the Wisconsin Alumni Research
that can reach temperature above 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing micro-shock waves. Li and Foundation. Li and his collaborators plan to
his team have shown that the violent micro-shock waves effectively disperse the nanoparticles establish an industrial consortium to disseminate
evenly through the molten metals. and implement their research results.