MERC draws more than 140 to UWM to discuss connected engineering

More than 140 engineers and other scientists from academia, industry and government–including 63 UWM faculty members and students –gathered on campus Feb. 28 and March 1 for technical discussions central to the future of connected engineering at the third annual Milwaukee Engineering Research Conference (MERC).

Emerging trends are at the heart of MERC. The annual event was established by UWM’s College of Engineering & Applied Science in large part to identify such trends and to foster topical collaboration among leaders in academia, industry and government.

Collaborative opportunities were abundant over the two-day event. Leading the discussions this year were those from ANSYS, Badger Meter, Direct Supply Innovation and Technology Center, Gannett Fleming, Johnson Controls Power Solutions, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Microsoft, Rexnord, Rockwell Automation, Tenneco, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, UWM Research Foundation, the Water Council and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

This year’s MERC was co-hosted by the College of Engineering & Applied Science and UWM’s Connected Systems Institute (CSI), which is quickly becoming Wisconsin’s central point for developing talent, expertise and solutions to prepare companies for digital transformation, including how to best use big data collected and shared through connected technologies.

Microsoft exec emphasizes data security

In his keynote address at the conference, Raghu Ramakrishnan, chief technology officer for data at Microsoft, discussed how today’s data collection offers opportunities to rethink business strategies and scientific enterprises in radically different, data-driven ways. He also stressed the need for responsible stewardship of data collection and use. (Read more about Ramakrishnan’s position on data collection in UWM News or on WUWM.)

The two days were anchored by five panel discussions on connected engineering-related topics. During these panels, attendees engaged in productive talks about data security, connectivity across disciplines from health care to transportation, new technologies and their impact, and the critical role connectivity plays in the water and energy nexus.

Each panel included industry participants and was led by one of the following UWM faculty members: Nidal Abu-Zahra, associate professor and chair, materials science and engineering; Al Ghorbanpoor, professor, civil & environmental engineering; Andrew Greene, visiting professor, biomedical engineering; Adel Nasiri, professor, electrical engineering and CSI’s interim executive director; and Deyang Qu, professor, Johnson Controls endowed chair, mechanical engineering.

The event ended with a build-out tour of the space for UWM’s Connected Systems Institute.

The college wishes to note the generosity of the following event sponsors: ANSYS, Astronautics Corporation of America, ATC, Dedicated Computing, Eaton, GE Healthcare, GRAEF, Johnson Controls, Leonardo DRS and We Energies Foundation.

David Yu, professor, electrical engineering and interim associate dean of research for the college, and Nasiri were instrumental in envisioning and planning this year’s MERC.