Tag Archives: materials science and engineering

Mentors help inventors make the leap to entrepreneur

Patrick Heaney, founder of NCD Technologies, uses a pyrometer to check temperatures inside of the vacuum chamber in the company’s lab at UW’s Research Park on Madison’s west side. The company is part of the UW MERLIN Mentors program. Photo by Bryce Richter.

It’s a story that could become a company’s founding narrative. The two Steves built their first Apple computer in the garage. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to start a software company. And 4-year-old Patrick Heaney broke a plastic sword while play-fighting — and recognized that materials can always stand improvement.

Eventually, that could become the founding narrative of NCD Technologies LLC, a Madison startup that is developing a super-hard diamond coating for industrial cutting tools.

The technique was invented in the UW-Madison lab of mechanical engineering Associate Professor Frank Pfefferkorn, where Heaney received his Ph.D. in 2009. But when NCD finally makes a profit, some of the credit will be due to a high-tech, high-touch UW mentoring program called MERLIN Mentors.

Despite the name, MERLIN (Madison Entrepreneur Resource, Learning and Innovation Network) specializes in advice rather than magic. “We want to get skills in entrepreneurship to people interested in creating companies,” says Terry Sivesind, MERLIN’s director.

Read the full story here.

Posted in Focus on Alumni, Newsmakers | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

President Honors Two Badger Engineers

Mike Arnold

Mike Arnold

Congratulations are in order for Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Mike Arnold who has been awarded the country’s highest honor for scientists at the beginning of their research careers. Arnold is among 94 researchers named by President Obama to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Since 1996, the annual PECASE awards have honored the most promising researchers in the Unites States, nominated by nine federal departments and agencies. Though at the start of their careers, these scientists and engineers have already demonstrated exceptional research and promise.
Arnold’s work is motivated by society’s rapidly growing energy consumption due to the expansion of the worldwide industrial economy, as well as the continued demand for smaller, faster, more sensitive and economical electronic and optoelectronic materials and devices. He was nominated by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Sam Zelinka

Sam Zelinka

Also receiving the award is U.S. Forest Service Materials Researcher Samuel L. Zelinka who earned his BS, MS and PhD from the UW-Madison Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 2005, 2006 and 2009. Zelinka explores corrosion of metal fasteners in wood, electrical properties of wood, and does fundamental research on wood-moisture relations. He was nominated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Posted in Announcements, Focus on Alumni, Newsmakers | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off