Alumni engineering our future: Dennis Rodenberg

As a student at UW-Madison, Dennis Rodenberg (BSME ’91) worked on campus as part of the Division of Facilities Planning & Management.

“I’m back in that same department, 30 years later,” the mechanical engineer and project manager says with a laugh.

Photo of Dennis Rodenberg collaborating with a colleague
Engineering alumnus Dennis Rodenberg is a project manager with the UW-Madison Division of Facilities Planning & Management who will be liaison between the university and state facilities units for the College of Engineering building project.

Rodenberg is serving as project manager for the College of Engineering’s new building, a role in which he’ll act as the point of contact between the university and the state of Wisconsin’s Division of Facilities Development.

He’s one of a number of UW-Madison engineering alumni contributing to the project through their professional endeavors. Here, he shares his perspective on his position and the momentous project.

What do you like about your work?

“That feeling of energy you get on campus. The students are excited to be here, the people who are researching and teaching are excited, so you feel that energy when you’re on campus—and you don’t always necessarily get that when you’re in private enterprise.”

As an engineering alum, what excites you most about working on this particular project?

“I think back to when I was a student. What is the state of engineering going to be in another 30 years? I look at how different it is from when I was in school to what it is now. And this building is going to be here for a long time, so we have to design that in. What are the next engineers going to need to know? And to be a part of that, developing that building for the next generation of engineers, to set them up to succeed, I think is really exciting and pretty satisfying. There are going to be all these engineers that will have come through these classrooms and this building that we put together and they’ll be successful, hopefully because of some of the work that we do here over the next couple of years.”

What do you hope this new building does for the college?

“Because of its location, it’s going to be a real flagship building just from a visual standpoint, something that really represents the College of Engineering and something that will help attract the best students and researchers. Everybody will want to be part of this. They’ll want to be in that building. And to some extent, we hope that other people are interested in what’s going on. I think part of the design we’re looking at is to make this building transparent and attractive to get other people who aren’t necessarily engineers to come in and just see what’s going on.”