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Carrying on Dr. King’s Dream



ME Ph.D. candidate Michael Alexander is one of five students to receive a 2010 North Campus MLK Spirit Award. The University recognizes these students for exemplifying and advancing Dr. King’s vision through their achievements in building diverse communities, leadership responsibilities and service to the University of Michigan community and beyond. The awards were presented at a luncheon held February 9 at the School of Art and Design.

Michael and Jeanne

Alexander was nominated for the award for his work in underrepresented minority graduate recruitment for the College of Engineering. He is a member of the Engineering Graduate Symposium and Engineering Department Visit Weekend planning committees. For the past four years, he has also served on the Society of Minority Engineers and Scientists-Graduate Component (SMES-G) board. “SMES-G is an essential organization on this campus as it provides a safe, nurturing environment for underrepresented minority (URM) engineers and scientists,” said Alexander. “Specifically, SMES-G enables us to identify positive, proactive ways to overcome the unique challenges that we face as URMs.”  SMES-G organizes activities such as academic and professional development seminars, social events, and community outreach with the ultimate goal of improving the recruitment and retention of URMs in engineering and the sciences.

Alexander’s Ph.D. research focuses on multilevel electric vehicle powertrain design, with a focus on commercial and military vehicle applications. His advisor is ME Professor Panos Papalambros. “Michael has been a strong positive force in our community and a real pleasure to have in our research laboratory,” said Papalambros. “He looks carefully at the typical difficulties we face everyday, big or small, and then he finds a way to approach them in a way that is thoughtful, positive and respectful of others. For Michael, everyone has value and everyone is important in the scheme of things; I think this makes him a very fitting person for the MLK Spirit award.”

Upon completion of the Ph.D. program, Alexander intends to pursue a career in applied research in industry or research labs that use his knowledge of multidisciplinary design analysis and optimization. “Although I am open to a wide variety of design applications, my preference is automotive,” he said. 

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