Welcome from the Chair

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

What do you get when you give some of the brightest and most motivated student minds access to world-class faculty and facilities and present them with extremely difficult problems to solve?

Mechanical engineers who have a positive impact on the world around them.

As chair of the University of Michigan Department of Mechanical Engineering (U-M ME), I have the privilege of seeing this on a daily basis. Our work — our teaching, our research, our service to the profession — has a real, tangible, positive influence. Each day in ME, our students, staff, and faculty work together to develop solutions that improve our world and the quality of life of its inhabitants.

Engagement, innovation, impact. These threads are woven throughout the efforts and accomplishments we're most proud of.

From AI, automotive engineering, and biosystems to robotics, sustainable energy, materials, and transportation of the future, our faculty conduct high-impact research that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. Collaborations span the College, the University, and the world, spurring innovation. That spirit of innovation begins “at home,” with several departmental initiatives designed to fuel creative teaching and research strategies.

Our Research Innovation Program in ME (RIP_ME) and Teaching Innovation Program in ME (TIP_ME) are two examples, helping our faculty explore visionary approaches. This year faculty submitted many compelling proposals, and three were selected. Teaching innovation projects include development of next-generation student design experiences that inherently take into account social, ethical, environmental, and economic factors and creation of an integrated online component of core undergraduate courses to improve engagement and learning. The winning RIP project focuses on revolutionary experimental and computational tools to address grand challenges in energy conversion, transport, and storage.

Enabling our research are state-of-the-art facilities. Following the completion of several major building and renovation projects, including the $46 million Mechanical Engineering Research Complex, the U-M Board of Regents approved the schematic design for the $75 million Ford Robotics Building. The new (and very cool) facility will include labs customized for many types of robotics technologies and applications. Several ME faculty conduct robotics research and will have space in the new building for their work.

In addition to receiving a number of prestigious awards, our faculty are having a broader impact through service, playing leading roles in many areas of the University and beyond. Further extending our impact, we welcome five new faculty members this year: assistant professors Solomon Adera, Ashley Bucsek, Jon Estrada, and Nima Fazeli, and lecturer Heather Cooper.

We also welcome our new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Coordinator Davon Wheeler, who will support DEI activities for faculty, staff, and students so that these concepts become even more ingrained in who we are and what we do. We’re excited, too, about our new WoMEntoring student group, launched to support community-building among female students and open to all students.

You'll find many examples throughout the U-M ME website of how our work is making a difference and preparing our students for careers defined by contribution and service. I hope they inspire you the way they do me - everyday.

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