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Diann Brei named next Integrative Systems + Design (ISD) Chair


Diann BreiME Professor Diann Brei has been named the new chair of Integrative Systems + Design (ISD), effective July 19, 2018. She succeeds the ISD founding chair Panos Papalambros, the James B Angell Distinguished University Professor, the Donald C. Graham Professor of Engineering, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Professor of Architecture, and Professor of Art and Design.

“ISD will continue to evolve in the years to come and I am delighted that Diann Brei will be taking the ISD chair responsibilities bringing new ideas and energy to the task,” said founding chair, Professor Panos Papalambros.

A faculty member of Michigan Engineering since 1994, Dr. Brei is a vanguard leader in research, education and service, building highly effective communities that work across boundaries and disciplines to create lasting value to society.  

“We are living in compelling times with the world undergoing rapid technological and societal changes,” said Dr. Brei, “ISD is positioned extremely well to turn current challenges into exciting opportunities that have meaningful impact for our students and our world. I am thrilled to be the next chair of ISD!”

As a trailblazer in the field of smart materials and structures, Dr. Brei has led its development from basic material research through disruptive technology design into groundbreaking and widespread industrial applications. She is quite literally a mover and shaker, focusing on integrating active materials in systems and structures to make them move in unimaginable, but highly useful ways. Her inventive, collaborative research work in intelligent materials has resulted in new technologies for improving the quality of life such as MEND: Michigan ENdoluminal Distraction, a device for the treatment of children with Short Bowel Syndrome and Liftware, a computerized assistive device for people with hand tremors or limited hand and arm mobility. She has been recognized for her collaborative medical research with the Ted Kennedy Team Excellence Award and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Da Vinci Award and Hartwell Award.  

Dr. Brei has been co-director of the U-M / General Motors Collaborative Research Laboratories (CRL) for over a decade. She has led synergistic teams of faculty, students, GM engineers and researchers to mature smart materials, and through design science, bridge the gap to successfully incorporate revolutionary smart devices into automotive platforms. Dr. Brei has long served as a national leader, earning the ASME dedicated service award, being named fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME and an Associate Fellow by the American Institute of Aeronautics. Most notably, in recognition of her lifetime contributions, Dr. Brei was recently presented with the top award in her field, the prestigious 2018 Adaptive Structures and Material Systems Award.

Dr. Brei is a proven innovative, compassionate educator. A professor of design for nearly 25 years, she was essential in establishing the Mechanical Engineering design curriculum, which set the national standard for an experiential team-based course. As ME undergraduate chair, she established a highly successful undergraduate program — Research, Innovation, Service, Entrepreneurship (RISE) – which provides opportunities for students at all levels to engage in one-on-one projects mentored by our world-class faculty, encouraging and preparing students to further pursue graduate studies.

Dr. Brei’s forward-thinking approach to education resulted in her launching a powerhouse intercampus community leadership team to develop a strategic approach to create effective Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) learning environments and educational experiences through a progressive inclusive team (PIT) curriculum. She has also created a core class incubator that inspires faculty members to develop and test innovative teaching methods in small classes resulting in best practices for student learning and teaching that faculty across the College have adopted. Additionally, she formed an Academic Student Success Working Group to aid struggling students, boosting their GPAs and leading to increased awareness and a culture of support within the College. The College has recognized her tremendous impact with the Monroe-Brown Foundation Service Excellence Award and with the Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Teaching Award.

Dr. Brei led ISD’s Design Science program as Program Director for the past six years. This unique, transdisciplinary graduate program engages in the systematic pursuit of design knowledge across all fields, challenging students to create, study, apply, and teach design principles using quantitative, qualitative, and analytical methods and processes. Dr. Brei built a robust community cultivating key industrial partners and growing the affiliates to over 60 faculty across campus.  In 2015, She extended the doctoral program launching the Master of Science in Design Science. U-M’s Rackham Graduate School selected her for a Master’s Mentoring Award.  

“Diann’s innovative research, educational and service mindset will bring dynamic leadership to ISD to guide its next stage of development,” said Alec D. Gallimore, who is the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, the Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Professor, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and a professor both of aerospace engineering and of applied physics.

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