On Campus: UW-Madison engineering student wins national inventors prize

2012-12-17T14:30:00Z On Campus: UW-Madison engineering student wins national inventors prizeDAN SIMMONS | Wisconsin State Journal | dsimmons@madison.com | 608-252-6136 madison.com

An idea for a printable prosthetic hand, first dreamed up when Eric Ronning was bored during an entry-level freshman engineering course, has now been recognized with a national inventors prize for the UW-Madison junior, who's also parlayed it into a start-up company.

"I feel like you could change the world with this idea," said Ronning, a mechanical engineering major from the Chicago suburbs, in a university release. "And that's what keeps me going."

Ronning's invention, called reHand, won him second place — and $12,000 — in the recent National Collegiate Inventors competition in Washington, D.C. Among the seven finalists in the undergraduate division, he was the only single-person team. It followed a first place showing — and $10,000 — in last winter's UW-Madison Innovation Days competition.

Ronning uses an MRI of an amputee's existing hand to create and print a lifelike prosthetic, including fully hinged fingers.

"It's not just a better looking prosthetic," he said. "It's their hand that they lost. It's a mirror image, so it's a lot more personal."

Ronning has been helped along the way by his adviser, T. Rockwell Mackie, director of medical devices at UW-Madison's Morgridge Institute for Research. Ronning developed the first version of the hand working at Sector 67, a Madison inventor space.

Now, he's started his own company, Re, to develop the invention further. The university's Law and Entrepreneurship clinic is helping him to patent the invention.

Wilson forced out

David Wilson, who left as chancellor of UW-Extension and UW Colleges in 2010 to become president at Morgan State University in Baltimore, is out of a job, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

Wilson, the son of Alabama sharecroppers who went on to graduate from Harvard University, left his job in Wisconsin despite efforts by top University of Wisconsin System officials to keep him.

Wilson said at the time he was attracted to the task of leading a historically black college and was compensated nicely, with Morgan State's $410,000 salary offer dwarfing his former employer's promise of about $238,000.

Three years later, he's being forced out under a controversial Board of Regents decision. Wilson wrote recently to the campus community highlighting achievements including increased federal funding plus improved student retention and alumni giving. But others fault him for a lackluster response to campus crime, including two recent shootings and reports of widespread drug use by students.

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