Student Profile: Master of Sustainable Systems Engineering

Steven Cechvala
President, Taiga International, LLC

With an undergraduate degree in architecture and more than 20 years of experience, including 11 years of owning his own architecture firm, Steven has a strong track record of success. He traveled throughout North America planning and designing for zoos and aquariums, as well as working on historic preservation and custom residential projects. However, he eventually started searching for an advanced degree that would set himself and his business apart from the competition.

“The institutions I work with are getting more involved in “green” aspects such as recycling, sustainable design for all new exhibits, and the like,” says Steven. “The Sustainable Systems Engineering program will advance my architectural knowledge base by allowing me to research and design newer environmentally sustainable systems and stay in the fore-front of the design community.”

As a new student this fall, Steven is excited to begin the journey that will directly benefit his company and career. The online format is ideal as he works to balance running a business and his education. He looks to the program to expand his knowledge base and learn sustainable systems that can be applied in ways that are not only practical, but also have a cost-effective, low impact approach.

“I felt that this is a perfect degree program not only to advance my career, but also help develop the sustainable design aspects in what I do,” says Steven. “Thoughtful and creative sustainable applications are a strategic investment that creates a healthier and more prosperous quality of life.”

UW–Madison Launches New Building Enclosure Commissioning Certificates

MADISON, Wis.— To formulate a proactive approach, while raising awareness, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is now offering a new certificate series on building enclosure commissioning. The new Accredited Building Enclosure Commissioning Process Provider (BECxP) or Accredited Commissioning Authority + Building Enclosure (CxA+BE) certifications emphasizes the importance of building enclosure commissioning and the understanding of the process through education, as well as an exam.

“The building envelope (enclosure) is critically important as it separates the outdoor environment from the indoor environment. It’s what makes our buildings habitable,” says John Davis, Program Director, Engineering Professional Development. “Too many building envelopes are failing or performing very poorly. These problems have created a real need for building enclosure commissioning.”

When discussing the importance of building enclosure commissioning, Davis explains how the process facilitates effective early decisions in achieving the building owner’s envelope requirements.

“Design and construction teams are becoming cognizant of the importance of the building envelope control layers and are much more aware of the potential negative impacts of poor design and construction quality,” Davis adds. “And longer term, I think owners and O&M staff will be better trained to maintain the building envelope.”

The certificate was developed to achieve the requirements of the total building commissioning process. Davis described the value of having someone on the project with some expertise in the design, construction and maintenance of building enclosures.

Certificate participants can expect to:
• Gain knowledge of the building enclosure commissioning process based on NIBS and ASHRAE guidelines
• Understand vital aspects of building enclosures, enclosure components, and roofing systems

Applicants can receive their Accredited Building Enclosure Commissioning Process Provider (BECxP) or Accredited Commissioning Authority + Building Enclosure (CxA+BE) certifications by successfully completing the Commissioning Building Enclosure Assemblies and Systems course and related exam.

The next offering of Commissioning Building Enclosure Assemblies and Systems will be held May 28–30, in Madison, Wisconsin.

For more information, please contact:
John G. Davis
Program Director, Engineering Professional Development
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Email: jgdavis2@wisc.edu
Phone: 608-262-8724
Website: cx.engr.wisc.edu

UW–Madison’s Online Engineering Graduate Programs Ranked No. 3 by U.S. News & World Report

MADISON, Wis.—The University of Wisconsin–Madison ranked third among schools offering high-quality online graduate engineering programs by U.S. News & World Report. This is the third year in a row UW–Madison has ranked in the top ten.

This important distinction was announced today as U.S. News & World Report released its most recent ranking of online master’s of engineering programs, which required eligible programs to pass rigorous standards for quality education in the areas of faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, student engagement, and admissions selectivity.

“UW–Madison is honored to again be included in this prestigious ranking by U.S. News & World Report,” said Wayne Pferdehirt, Director of Distance Degree Programs for UW–Madison’s Department of Engineering Professional Development in the College of Engineering. “We strive to offer our students the highest quality and best value in engineering education available anywhere in any format. UW-Madison’s approach to online engineering education seeks to create a highly engaging, collaborative learning experience between experienced adult students and world-class faculty. We are delighted that the quality of UW’s graduate engineering programs and the success of our students are recognized in these rankings by U.S. News and World Report.

UW–Madison’s College of Engineering and Department of Engineering Professional Development offer a variety of online engineering graduate programs, in areas including:
• Sustainable systems engineering
• Engineering management (professional practice)
• Engine systems
• Polymer engineering and science
• Technical Japanese
• Electrical and computer engineering (power electronics)
• Mechanical engineering (controls)

More information on all of UW–Madison’s online engineering degree programs can be found at distancedegrees.engr.wisc.edu/2014usnews, or contact Wayne Pferdehirt, Director of Distance Degree Programs, at 608-265-2361 or wppferde@wisc.edu, or Colleen Barrett, Marketing Director, at 608-263-6314 or barrett@epd.engr.wisc.edu.

SSE students learn about land ethics at Aldo Leopold Center

Keeping with the program’s dedication to sustainable skill development and practical applications, students of the University of ­Wisconsin­–Madison’s Master of Engineering in Sustainable Systems Engineering (SSE) will be visiting the Leopold Center, Shack and Farm in Baraboo, Wisconsin, on Wednesday, April 23, coinciding with the week of Earth Day, to learn about Aldo Leopold’s land ethic and the center’s energy efficiency initiatives.

“Aldo Leopold’s land ethic brought a renewed focus on values and the interactions between humans and natural systems by which to weigh our actions,” explained Marty Gustafson, Program Director for SSE. “He promoted the idea that the ‘health of the land should be at least as important as many of the other things our society values.’ So these are the discussions we’re now having in our classes, and they are topics that many engineers are having for the first time. So I like to think that the efforts on campus from our Office of Sustainability and the SSE program are in a small way continuing Aldo Leopold’s work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”

The SSE program is committed to preparing students to be dynamic, adaptable thinkers in their approach to questions of sustainability and change within their organizations. Now students also have the unique opportunity to meet their online learning community face-to-face while getting an inside look at Aldo Leopold’s famous shack from A Sand County Almanac, along with the Foundation’s building where sustainable engineering practices and nature not only coexist but thrive together.

The Leopold Center, named in the spirit of the notable environmentalist and professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, was the first building ever to be awarded carbon-neutral status by the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) programming, signifying that the building has no net carbon dioxide emissions annually. SSE students will benefit from the center’s innovative green building initiatives, including the campus’s sustainable forestry efforts, high energy efficiency, and use of renewable resources.

But these innovations are only a few of the myriad ways in which Aldo Leopold can inspire SSE students to find creative solutions to sustainability concerns within their own buildings and organizations. This visit will provide students with the valuable opportunity to learn from the Leopold Center on how building a land ethic creates a respectful relationship between people and the natural world.

“The Leopold Center helps us to envision how we can use energy more efficiently and develop positive relationships to other people and the planet,” Anna Hawley, Education Assistant at Aldo Leopold. “The center not only meets the highest standards of the US Green Building Council, but also sustains the health, wildness, and productivity of the land, locally and globally. It is a place to learn about Leopold’s intimate, life-long relationship with the American landscape and see his ideas put into practice.”

Visit the Master of Engineering in Sustainable Systems Engineering website.

MEPP alumnus Bartel receives invention award

Aaron Bartel – Special Invention Award recipientMEPP alumnus Aaron W. Bartel, a structural thermoplastic composites engineer, was honored by Boeing with it’s annual Special Invention Award, which highlights the best of the company’s innovation.

These awards are given each year to individuals and teams who are inspired to create inventions that prove most valuable to Boeing and to the future of aerospace. This year, 16 such inventions were recognized, most of which have been granted or are awaiting U.S. patents.

Bartel, 33, was part of a team that invented a soluble tooling for complex parts fabrication.

“Being a Boeing Special Inventor means thinking outside of traditional concepts and ideas to come up with unconventional solutions to technical challenges,” Bartel said. “I’m personally driven to pursue innovation for the satisfaction of having a small part in shaping the aerospace industry.”

Bartel, who earned a Master of Engineering in Professional Practice, UW-Madison’s management and leadership degree in 2010, has been with Boeing for 8 years, and earned a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2005.

“Every day, our people strive to unveil the next breakthroughs that will strengthen our 97-year-old legacy of technical excellence and engineering achievement,” said John Tracy, Boeing’s Chief Technology Officer and senior vice president of the company’s Engineering, Operations & Technology division. “Innovators like Aaron have achieved a level of technical mastery that’s led to business success and that stands out from a peer group of outstanding, technically excellent, and resourceful professionals.”

Sidebar: Sustainable Craft Brewers

New Glarus Brewing Company in southwest Wisconsin has been experiencing double digit growth, averaging 18% every year since it opened in its initial Riverside Brewery in 1993, says founder and president Deb Carey. “We’ve just completed $9 million in expansion and another $11 million on the way,” she says, adding “We doubled the capacity of our Hilltop brewery from 150,000 to 250,000 barrels per year.”

Those expansions have been a model in sustainability. “It’s been about reclaiming steam, heat exchangers, reclaiming chemicals, our own sewage treatment plant, wind and solar,” says Carey. For example, the chemicals used to rinse the three miles of pipe in the facility are re-used in washing down floors, and treated wastewater drawn from their own treatment plant – reducing the brewery’s impact on the community sewage treatment system – has been used in irrigation on the grounds.

Small craft brewer Ale Asylum just opened a new brewery in Madison, expanding from 8,000 square feet and a 13-barrel brewhouse at its former location to a 45,000 square foot facility with a 33-barrel brewhouse, increasing its maximum production from 11,000 to 50,000 barrels per year with room for additional expansion.

The expansion has been all about production and energy efficiency, says brewmaster Dean Coffey. Ale Asylum looked at the energy savings areas as hot and cold—the steam boiler and refrigeration—where long-term efficiency led the company to select “a boiler system about ten grand more expensive for the highest efficiency and the lowest emissions” of greenhouse gases, says Coffey.

Additionally, innovative piping systems that reduced the surface area of liquid wort to be heated in the beer fermenting process were installed; thus, instead of wrapping an entire vat with a large surface area that must be heated, the liquid is pumped through a series of smaller heated pipes. The refrigeration system is high tech as well, with the development of a series of compressors that self-regulate to shut themselves down or ramp up as needed, rather than operating one large compressor. The smart temperature systems in both refrigeration and in the heating and ventilation systems use outside air temperature to aid in heating and cooling, including piping Freon from the refrigeration system to the roof in the winter to cool it down. When it comes to sustainability Coffey also points to recapture, such as using a heat exchanger that channels bled off steam from the boiler to heat the hot water serving the building’s sinks.

Sustainability may also involve trying to reduce the distance materials travel to the company. Coffey says Ale Asylum, tries to source as much locally as possible, though some raw materials, such as hops, which are primarily grown west of the Rockies, must travel long distances. But he said glass bottles and cardboard used on the bottling line come from Wisconsin and the brewhouse itself he ordered from Elroy, WI, when he could have paid half the price by going with a product made in China.

The reasons a smaller brewery takes a sustainable systems approach are as varied as the brewers involved. Coffey says that while the stereotypical brewmaster tends to be an environmental advocate, for Ale Asylum “These decisions are almost totally about dollars and cents. There’s a feel good element to wanting to do something for the environment,” he says, “but in the end, it’s economic.”

Carey notes that “new ideas for breweries don’t exist. (Sustainability) is not a marketing tool (for us). Are you conscientious about your business? We’ve got the most advanced environmental projects in the world” in the new brewing facilities. “I don’t think we’ve sent out a single press release about that. It’s not for marketing.” She notes the goal isn’t even about growth. “The goal is for us to brew world class beer. The profitability part of the equation isn’t even the top issue.”

Engineering a more perfect beer.

By Meg Turville-Heitz

Beer—a beverage considered by some to be as old as a civilization.

While a brewmaster’s recipe may not have changed for decades, maybe centuries, engineering efficiencies has become a goal for an industry that uses tremendous amounts of energy and water. The process of making beer is changing as breweries take a closer look at increasing sustainability in the manufacturing process. Many breweries are upgrading and expanding into new operations to meet demand, while the large global breweries are looking to make their products more efficiently.

“Sustainability is a concept of rapidly increasing importance in the brewing industry,” says Ryan Griffin, a sustainability advisor with See the Forest, LLC, and a former asset management engineer at MillerCoors, which remains a client. As a student in the Master of Engineering in Sustainable Systems Engineering (SSE) program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison he has worked to spread ideas learned from a systems perspective to the organization. “One such idea is using the concept of industrial ecology to analyze resource use throughout our supply chain,” says Griffin. “We are now beginning to build long-term partnerships with our material suppliers to design sustainability into how we operate. This could mean helping barley farmers grow their grain with less water, or our packaging suppliers use less energy to produce their materials.”

He notes that water and energy efficiency per barrel of beer brewed “are two metrics the company has actively worked to improve for the last five years. Two MillerCoors breweries are already at world class levels of water consumption per barrel” or less than a ratio of 3:1 water use to beer, and “others are close behind,” he says. Additionally, six of the company’s eight breweries have achieved goals of zero waste to landfills.

Smaller breweries such as New Glarus Brewing Company in southern Wisconsin and Ale Asylum in Madison, Wisconsin have embraced sustainable changes as well, building efficiencies and recycling into their breweries as they doubled their capacity.

While brewers may talk about solutions in terms of the mechanical changes they have added to their facility, sustainability engineers move beyond the component level, to seeing the entire life cycle of the product from input to disposal of the finished product, says Marty Gustafson, UW–Madison Department of Engineering Professional Development program director for SSE. What’s most optimal for the company can also be most optimal for the environment and society, says Gustafson. “Sustainability looks at three areas: environment, economy and society,” she says, and the school’s master’s program teaches engineers how to view these three areas from the raw materials to the consumer’s final consumption from a more circular and less linear perspective. “Engineers look at a machine; a systems engineer looks at the bottleneck and sees that really, for example, it’s that the supplier requirements could be better.”

Griffin says the skills and tools he’s gained in the program have helped him identify and prioritize tasks, and help production teams focus on what matters most. “It’s easy to let ourselves think that our problems are either too big to solve or, on the flip side, to oversimplify and expect easy answers without knowing the consequences of our decisions. SSE has taught me to look at situations holistically,” says Griffin. For example, he is leading an initiative at MillerCoors to reduce office paper usage. “Most people don’t realize how much paper it takes to brew and ship beer in a company that’s been around for 158 years,” says Griffin. He notes that looking at the root causes of waste, outdated systems, work practices and unneeded consumption has led to more than $140,000 in savings in copy paper alone, with almost no financial investment.

“Maybe more importantly, the same project has saved over 1,200 trees, one million gallons of water, 600 megawatt hours of electricity, 50 tons of waste and has helped people work more productively at the same time,” says Griffin.

Pat Eagan, an instructor with the SSE program notes that engineers are “pretty good at optimizing systems. What we’re not good at is linking systems,” which often results in unforeseen consequences. “It’s huge to be a sustainable engineer. You have to have that cultural understanding” of the corporate philosophy, the workers roles in production, and thinking about environmental justice, ecosystem influences and infrastructure. Engineering “doesn’t stop at the boundary of the highway” he says, and thus students in his program learn to ask the right questions and to use various tools to help them develop a process of life cycle thinking through industrial ecology. They pair these with a tailor-made road map to competencies the student wants to achieve, such as breaking down the production process of how something is done in a workplace, evaluating personal skills and professionalism and then what is needed to do the job. Such processes include understanding the human component of sustainability as well.

“We have actually done some research at MillerCoors that found that at least two thirds of the change required to enhance sustainability comes from human and management changes vs. capital and engineering changes,” says Griffin. He notes that with the Go Paperless project he initiated “probably 90 percent of my time was spent on the culture change, educating and motivating people. Very little was spent actually implementing technical solutions.” He also found he’s learned skills from the program to help him present a business case for sustainable investment to management in terms that are most likely to resonate at the corporate level.

Gustafson agrees that most of the changes are done because sustainability is an end goal, but SSE students like Griffin learn how to pitch the cost reduction, whether the change is being driven from the top down or the bottom up.

“I believe that much of the immediate change needed to protect our climate and resources will come from the business world,” says Griffin. To that end, he notes that MillerCoors has helped him start his consulting business to help “local organizations incorporate sustainability, industrial ecology and systems thinking into their operating models. There is a huge opportunity right now for business, municipalities, and non-profits alike to find ways to become more ecologically responsible while saving money and improving performance.”

And, of course, making the perfect beer more perfect.

Read more on Sustainable Craft Brewers.

Find out more about the Master of Engineering in Sustainable Systems Engineering by visiting sse.engr.wisc.edu or email Marty Gustafson SSE program director.

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Reindl Named as ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer

Doug Reindl

Doug Reindl, PhD, PE

UW–Madison Engineering Professional Development Program Director Douglas Reindl, PhD, PE, Fellow ASHRAE is one of eight new Distinguished Lecturers named by ASHRAE. This is the 14th year of ASHRAE’s distinguished Lecturers program which began in 1996. There are a total of 77 lecturers identified for the 2013-2014 Society year, which represents 13 countries and 345 topics. Reindl’s presentation topics include “An Introduction to Ammonia Refrigeration Systems;” “ASHRAE Standard 15-2010–A Review and Update;” and “Refrigerant Safety–Inside and Outside the Machinery Room.”

EPD brings course to Commonwealth of Dominica

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Engineering Professional Development’s (EPD) goal is to provide education to professionals around the world. Recently EPD had the opportunity to take its Overhead Transmission Lines course to a completely new location, the Commonwealth of Dominica.

The chief engineer of Dominica Electricity Services (DOMLEC) had found the course online and contacted EPD. After personally attending an offering of the course in Madison, Wisconsin, he connected with EPD’s Program Director Mitch Bradt to start the process of bringing the course to Dominica, where it would be available to engineers and senior linesmen. Engineers all around the West Indies face similar transmission line issues, including distribution line stability, so those from neighboring islands were also encouraged to attend. Between the 32 attendees, “there was a lot of networking and sharing of best practices, more than just overhead transmission design,” says Carl Vieth, Director of Corporate Education at EPD. “Bringing us down was a big thing in that it enabled them to get a highly tailored, high-quality program that they could then apply across their group.”

As Director of Corporate Education at EPD, Vieth “work(s) with companies and agencies to look at the organizational development means. I was there to make sure that the course was running smoothly, that the customer’s needs were being met, and also to understand some of the ongoing challenges that they face to bring more EPD work to them in the future.”

Leading the three-day course was longtime EPD instructor John Miner, President of Collaborative Learning, Inc., who has experience working on tropical islands and electric utilities in the tropics. “We were able to get expertise that is very difficult to find in an instructor,” says Vieth. “He understood their technical challenges and was able to tailor the curriculum to fit their specific needs. “

At the end of the three days, DOMLEC’s CEO held a short ceremony to hand out the course certificates and recognize each person individually for their participation.

From the organization’s perspective, they were able to easily upscale their entire engineering workforce in a short period of time and get them to a consistent level of understanding. According to Vieth, “They were able to get engineers and line workers working as teams and understanding each other’s challenges in a pretty complex system. It broke down some of the traditional organizational barriers between different groups of employees.”

From the perspective of the individuals, they were able to gain knowledge and skill that they hadn’t had before, which could be applied immediately to their job. “They also received some recognition and reward from the organization’s leadership for their continuing education efforts, and were able to collaborate and network across geographic and organizational boundaries with their peers,” says Vieth.

EPD also benefited from this new experience. Vieth says that EPD was able “to gain exposure to some of the very unique challenges that engineers in the West Indies have within their electric distribution system. We got a pretty good understanding of some of the unique technical challenges that they have, and how they approach those was a learning experience for us.”

Overall, the experience was a positive one for all those involved. “We received very favorable reviews for the course,” says Vieth. “The HR director stopped me and asked if we could to discuss a couple of the other issues that the company is facing. We have been in discussions with them ever since to figure out how best to time, sequence, and fund that.  We developed these really rich relationships over just a couple of days and I think that these relationships will be very beneficial moving on.”

MEPP Graduates Donate to Children’s Hospital

EPD with American Family Children's Hospital representatives

UW–Madison EPD with American Family Children's Hospital Representatives. From left: Julie Auenson, CCLS, Child Life Services Manager, American Family Children's Hospital; Rose Richgels, Philip O'Leary, and Wayne Pferdehirt, UW–Madison EPD; James Gilmore, Jr., Development Program Manager, American Family Children's Hospital.

UW–Madison MEPP graduate presenting check to American Family Children's Hospital representatives

Matt Hilgendorf, 2013 graduate of the Master of Engineering in Professional Practice presents American Family Children's Hospital's James Gilmore, Jr., Development Program Manager, and Julie Auenson, CCLS, Child Life Services Manager, with a donation to Badger Pals.

Battling a serious illness is a stressful and scary experience, especially for kids. Recognizing the strength and bravery of the children at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, the graduating class of University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Master of Engineering in Professional Practice (MEPP) program established the Badger Pals Endowment Fund in 2007. The Badger Pals fund makes it possible for patients and their parents or guardians to attend Wisconsin sporting events on and off the UW–Madison campus, in hopes of providing relief from the stress and anxiety that accompanies being a hospital patient.

Contributions to the fund cover the cost of tickets, refreshments, and the medical staff necessary to help kids attend these athletic events. The fund also helps support the hospital’s monthly Bucky Bingo game, where kids and teens play for prizes and meet Bucky Badger, UW–Madison’s beloved mascot.

Most recently, the graduating class of 2013 made a significant $1,500 donation to the American Family Children’s Hospital through the Badger Pals fund. They were inspired to make the contribution by the positive experiences that past MEPP class donations have created for patients.

American Family Children’s Hospital notes that donations from the Badger Pals fund helps them offer opportunities to patients and their families who may not have been able to enjoy such an experience otherwise.Badger Pals is an ongoing endowment fund through the University of Wisconsin Foundation. Anyone interested is welcome to contribute to this great cause.