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When you’re in the College of Engineering, you learn by doing. And so it was only fitting that UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin spent the afternoon of July 20 experiencing College of Engineering innovations that benefit our cities, safety, travel, environment and more. Importantly, she also met many of the outstanding engineers behind those technologies. She learned what they like about their work and experiences here, and what motivates them to do what they do.

Here’s a window into some of the chancellor’s activities that day.

Indoors, Chancellor Mnookin took a ride down a pretend State Street in our full-scale driving simulator, and learned from college Executive Associate Dean and traffic engineering expert David Noyce how we’re studying driver behavior in environments increasingly dominated by connected technologies.

Chancellor Mnookin with Xiaopeng Li and autonomous vehicle
Outside, the chancellor met Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Xiaopeng Li and members of his research group, whose work in connected and autonomous vehicles ladders up to goals for smart city systems. While she wasn’t in the driver’s seat of Li’s autonomous vehicle, she did get a ride, too.

Chancellor Mnookin tours robotics lab
In a different approach to locomotion, Chancellor Mnookin talked with students in the lab of Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Peter Adamczyk. Much of their work centers around improving lower-limb prostheses and improving lower-limb mobility overall. Colleague Xiaobin Xiong, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, talked about his work with legged robots, including those that stand on more than two.

Chancellor Mnookin tours the nuclear reactor
Diving into one of the country’s top-ranked nuclear engineering programs, the chancellor learned from Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics Professor and Chair Paul Wilson about the important role the UW Nuclear Reactor plays in experiential undergraduate education as well as in research at (and even beyond) UW-Madison.

Meeting with biomedical engineer Caelen Nickel, mechanical engineer Jon Brooks, and electrical and computer engineers Keeton Kowalski and Gabriela Setyawan, Chancellor Mnooking heard firsthand about their Badger engineering experiences, particularly the important role of collaboration throughout their undergraduate education.

Over the past five years, more than 70 new faculty members have joined the college, contributing enthusiasm, fresh ideas and a very high level of expertise. A number of those rising stars gathered for a reception, where Chancellor Mnookin met each of them and learned about their interests in areas that include energy, sustainability, advanced manufacturing, quantum devices, artificial intelligence, semiconductors and many others.

Featured image caption: Throughout their education, students play vital leadership roles in areas that range from mentoring incoming students to advancing the college’s research enterprise. All photos by Renee Meiller.