14 Jan Three research grants awarded under UWM advanced automation program
Milwaukee, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Foundation will fund three research projects in 2008 under its catalyst grant program in advanced automation.
The $170,000 in catalyst program funds are part of the five-year, $1 million gift to UWM from Rockwell Automation announced in January 2007. Rockwell envisions the gift as a first step toward a technology research program at UWM that will bolster the region’s advanced manufacturing and automation industry, which is one of the thrusts of the university’s research program.
UWM Research Foundation President Brian Thompson, noting that external reviewers ranked two-thirds of the 15 proposals among the top 10 percent nationally, said the foundation had a difficult time choosing just three. The projects include:
• Sensors & Devices: Junhong Chen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. Chen’s work involves the development of a novel sensing platform that employs carbon nanotubes for miniaturized gas sensors. This work is already the subject of a U.S. patent application that the UWM Research Foundation is pursuing.
• Materials: Carolyn Aita, Wisconsin distinguished professor, materials. Aita’s proposal involves the use of smart nano-structured material coatings for pitting corrosion protection of steels used in electrical contacts. Her work is potentially important to several companies in the area, including Harley-Davidson, Kohler, and Badger Meter, and she believes her work will form the basis for a “corrosion consortium” among local companies.
• Software & Manufacturing Informatics: Fatemeh (Mariam) Zahedi, Trisept solutions professor, management information systems. Zahedi’s work addresses the challenging question of connecting the “shop floor” with the “top floor.” It is a project in the area of manufacturing informatics that could lead to a better connection of business strategy with ever-increasing amounts of data. Rockwell also is supporting the work of Hemant Jain, a Wisconsin distinguished professor of management information systems in the area of manufacturing informatics.
In addition to bolstering UWM’s advanced automation research, long-term objectives of the catalyst grant program, modeled on the research growth initiative, include strengthening regional corporate partnerships, promoting collaborative research, and creating internship and employment opportunities for UWM students and graduates.
To expand the program, the UWM Research Foundation continues to seek support from other regional companies.
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