Mechanical Engineering Annual Report 2021-2022

Leadership Message

Ellen Arruda, Mechanical Engineering Department Chair

Dear friends,

I hope this greeting finds you safe and well. It has not been an easy year for many, and with such critical challenges facing society, our global community needs mechanical engineers today more than ever. The University of Michigan Department of Mechanical Engineering (U-M ME) is committed to finding innovative, equitable solutions as we carry out our mission to make the world work better.

The past 12 months have been a time of intense planning for the ME department as we’ve defined our strategic initiatives for the next five years. Actionable and measurable, these initiatives represent a long process of dialogue with a broad range of stakeholders—faculty, staff, students, alumni, industry, and others—about the Department’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities.

Although we began in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted our work. We reconvened a year later and conducted a new round of discussions and focus groups to ensure we captured the pandemic’s unprecedented circumstances and impacts.

As a result of this intense effort, we now have a new strategic plan in place. It’s guided by our vision of a future of mechanical engineering that achieves an equitable, sustainable, inclusive, and innovative world through our exceptional contributions to education, research, service, and social justice.

Toward this vision, the new plan is built around five action-oriented focal areas:

  1. Deliver Exceptional Education to Prepare Students for a Changing World
  2. Advance Future Research Directions to Address the World’s Most Important Challenges
  3. Foster Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to Build a More Socially Just World
  4. Strengthen Collegiality, Collaboration, and Communication to Have a Positive Impact on the World Around Us
  5. Create Supportive and Effective Operational Structures, Processes, and Cultures to Maximize Department Potential

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) remains a top priority for us. Our many initiatives, such as those around mentoring junior faculty and improving the faculty search process, have led to our being recognized with the 2022 Rhetaugh G. Dumas Progress in Diversifying Award from the Academic Women’s Caucus and Center for the Education of Women. You can read more about our DEI efforts and other strategic initiatives in our Strategic Plan Executive Summary.

Growth and change
Last year in this space, I shared news of the enhancements to our curriculum and instructional lab and research spaces, including our hands-on project-based courses. This work continues with ongoing searches for six new faculty. This is a significant expansion as we look ahead at societal needs in health care, energy, sustainability, mobility, advanced manufacturing, and other emerging areas.

As you may know, the College of Engineering is the first among the country’s top 10 engineering schools to create a department dedicated to robotics. ME Professor Dawn Tilbury has played an instrumental role in advancing robotics research at U-M, including leadership of the Robotics Steering Committee and, now, as the first chair of the University’s new Robotics Department.

ME faculty have earned a number of other honors and awards this year for their teaching, service and research achievements, including endowed professorships, NSF CAREER awards, and selections as fellows in national and international organizations. These include the Royal Society of Chemistry, ASME, and The Combustion Institute, among others.

Student achievement
Our students have also been recognized for their accomplishments, with four earning National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships in 2022. Their projects span mechanical engineering disciplines, including carbon capture, additive manufacturing, sot robotics, and lithium battery performance. You can read more about the 2022 fellows and their projects here.

I find the accomplishments of our ME community—far beyond those we have space to list here—inspiring and motivating. I hope they have a similar impact on you. We’re grateful for your time and interest.

Be well.

Ellen Arruda
Tim Manganello/BorgWarner Department Chair and
Maria Comninou Collegiate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

By the Numbers

In 2021-2022 U-M ME received $42,652,500 research dollars. The department hired 5 new faculty in 2021, bringing our total of tenured and tenure track faculty to 78.

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Research & News

Read more about the groundbreaking research of our faculty in a variety of areas including health, energy, sustainability, and transportation.

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The ME Community

The UM-ME community continues to be resilient to the changes the world has seen since the COVID-19 pandemic. With campus coming back to life, we have been able to gather to celebrate our accomplishments and our diverse community and to engage again in hands-on learning in our classrooms. Our persistence and flexibility has enabled us to continue in creating life-changing innovations.

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Awards & Honors

The list of awards our faculty and students receive every year is long and prestigious and 2022 was no different. From NSF CAREER Awards to National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, our community is represented in a wide range of areas for their research and accomplishments.

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