University of Wisconsin–Madison


Summer 2018 Newsletter

Bulletins from Biological Systems Engineering


Troy Runge posing in his labIn case you had not noticed, Doug Reinemann’s friendly face has been replaced with mine for both this article and as Department Chair. Doug accepted a position as the Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I was elected to replace him. For those that I have not had the pleasure of meeting, I have been with BSE for 9 years working primarily in the biofuels/bioproducts area. I am a native of Wisconsin growing up on a dairy farm outside of Colby, WI, which of course is famous for its cheese. I am excited about the future of agriculture and BSE’s role in it. If you are in the neighborhood, I am hoping you will stop by to say hello.

As I write this article, the snows have FINALLY melted and the spring bulbs have emerged, seemingly overnight. Our students also seem to be energized by the warm weather, or perhaps just glad to be almost done with the semester. Our student population has continued to grow, with our undergraduate numbers up to 235 at last count, with 33 graduating this May. We will celebrate with the graduating students and their families with a BSE breakfast prior to commencement to wish them well as they start a new chapter in their careers.

Looking to the future, what is the department focused on? We will continue to build our instructional capability, especially in providing bigger and better teaching lab space that allows active learning for our increasing student numbers. We will also continue to invest in our shop with the goal of making it a safe and capable environment for students to provide the hands-on experiences to augment what they learn in traditional classrooms. As we look to invest in our instructional facilities, we hope that you consider a donation to the BSE Facilities fund. Our past upgrades have been made in no small part due to generous contributions from our alumni and friends of the department to this fund, to which we are extremely grateful.

BSE Summer Update

Student at women's shop night


There can be a lot of pressure when you’re one of just a few females in a shop classroom. To help address this, the Department of Biological Systems Engineering created a Women’s Shop Night to encourage more women to get hands-on experience in design and fabrication.

Read More.

ASABE students at a Brewers game


It has been a busy Spring semester for the ASABE UW-Madison chapter. We hosted three great speakers: Mr. John McBride, CEO and founder of VES Environmental Solutions; Katlyn Devoe, MSA Professional Services; and Brian Straub, design engineer at MacDon.

During the early part of March we attended Midwest Regional Rally where we met, networked, and went on industry tours with other ASABE student chapters around the Midwest.

This semester we visited Digi-Star LLC where we learned how agricultural measurement and control systems are made. We also toured the Richland Center Renewable Energy Center where we saw how recycled waste from food processing plants can be used for renewable energy.

Cows eating hay from a trough


Greenhouse gases, which collect in the atmosphere and trap the sun’s radiation, are a big issue for the dairy industry. Methane is a concern because it’s particularly potent – it traps about 30 times as much radiation as carbon dioxide does – and a cow generates a lot of it in her rumen, the huge stomach chamber where microbes are fermenting as much as 200 pounds of plant material.

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Late Professor Emeritus Glenn Barquest


Glenn Barquest, a UW-Madison professor emeritus in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering and former UW-Extension woodworking and farm mechanics specialist, died on Jan. 22, 2018. He was 99. Born on March 30, 1918 in Anson, WI, Barquest served in the U.S. Army from 1941-1946, including deployment to Europe for World War II during 1944-45. He served honorably, rising to the rank of Captain.

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A huge thank-you to all the donors who have supported the department this year.

People on the Move

Photo of Dave Bohnhoff

With spring being a season of change, it is fitting to write about a few of our faculty / staff changes that are coming. The big announcement is that after 30 years of dedicated service, Dave Bohnhoff will be retiring this July. Dave has been a big part of our department’s success through the decades and we are happy for him reaching this milestone. He does plan to remain active in the department and will continue much of his research work.

We have also just completed a search for an Advanced Machinery Systems faculty position, primarily bolstering our capacity in machine sensing and big data analysis. We are happy to say that we had a large pool of interested and qualified candidates, and are currently in the midst of the offer process. Assuming all goes well our new faculty will be in the department in early 2019. We are also currently interviewing for a lecturer position. With Doug’s promotion to an Associate Dean position and Dave’s retirement coupled with our strong student growth we needed to add to our instructional capacity.