2012 Year-End Message from Dean Satish Udpa
December 21, 2012
Dear faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the College of Engineering,
As we reach the end of an eventful year, I would like to thank each of you for your friendship and support. Each year seems to arrive in increasingly rapid succession, delivering a future of exponentially greater change. As we prepare to greet a new year, I find it useful to slow down for a few minutes to reflect on the achievements of the past twelve months and to put those achievements in the perspective of our recent history.
As we consider the path we have taken over the past five years, I am proud to note that the college has clearly made enormous strides in virtually every measure of success throughout our academic, research, and outreach missions.
Academic achievement begins long before students enter the MSU College of Engineering. Over the past five years, programs focusing on developing future Spartan Engineers by cultivating an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields among middle and high school students have taken flight.
In 2006-07, we were in contact with only about 250 middle school students, primarily through participation in FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competitions. Our efforts have expanded exponentially, and will serve more than 3,000 pre-college students and teachers in the coming year - including engineering education partnerships with 12 Detroit-area schools and two all-girls schools. We have secured Motorola Solutions Foundation grants each of the past six years, growing the Spartan Middle and High School Robotics programs to include both FLL and VEX Robotics teams around the state, and hosting regional tournaments for both programs. Next February, the college will host the very first Spartan VEX Robotics Challenge State Championship Tournament for high school students. We also engage high school students from the greater Lansing area in Design Day, and bring students from throughout Michigan (and even around the world) to a broad variety of summer programs.
Another program focused on engaging more young people in engineering was launched in late 2005. The Michigan Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (MI-LSAMP) is an NSF-supported program that works with our Diversity Programs Office to significantly increase the number of under-represented minority students graduating with STEM degrees. Last year we celebrated the reauthorization and expansion of the program as it has grown from the original four collaborating universities (MSU, the University of Michigan, Western Michigan, and Wayne State University) to include Michigan Technological University and nine community colleges across Michigan, as well. For the third consecutive year, our Engineering and Science Summer Academy (ESSA) received funding from the DTE Energy Foundation. ESSA is a six-week residential program initiated in 2007 by the Diversity Programs Office (DPO) to help ensure that at-risk students succeed within the College of Engineering.
A result of these and other initiatives has been an ever-strengthening pool of undergraduate students. ACT scores of incoming students have increased from an average of 24 five years ago to between 29 and 30 today - with many students matriculating with ACT scores of 33 and above. When they come to MSU, many of these high-caliber students are engaged in undergraduate research and other extracurricular learning opportunities. In 2006, only 15 engineering undergraduate students were engaged as Professorial Assistants; that number has jumped to a whopping 70 students this fall.
Our graduate programs also continue to grow. In fall 2006, the College of Engineering enrolled 204 MS and 375 PhD students. This fall, we matriculated 303 MS and 555 PhD students, a more than 48 percent increase in graduate student numbers.
Spartan Engineering students marked the year with outstanding achievements both in and outside of the classroom.
Seven College of Engineering students earned Board of Trustees awards for their high academic achievements – each graduating with a 4.0 GPA. In April 2012: Matthew Durak, (computer engineering, and a member of the Honors College); John Matthew Franklin (chemical engineering, and a member of the Honors College); Robert Hasselbeck (chemical engineering); Devan Sayles (computer science, media and communication technology, and a member of the Honors College); Christopher Sigler (computer engineering); Nicholas Wilson (mechanical engineering, and a member of the Honors College) were honored at commencement. In December 2012: Matthew Witmer (mechanical engineering) was honored. Mike Sadler, an applied engineering sciences senior and punter on the Spartan football team, received the MSU Football program's Potsy Ross Award (Top Scholar-Athlete) for the second consecutive year. He was also named to first-team All-Big Ten and was named to the Capital One Academic All-District 5 Team for his 4.0 GPA.
Mairin Chesney, a computer science and engineering and Honors College sophomore, was named a 2012-13 Goldwater Scholar. She combined her love of computer science and biology while working with Professor Charles Ofria in the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.In July, Jared DeMott, a doctoral candidate in computer science, took third place in the Microsoft Blue Hat Prize Security Contest.Tabula Mbala-Nkanga, a senior with a dual major in computer and electrical engineering was elected president of the National Association of Engineering Student Councils. Kyle Watts, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, was named vice president of Relations.The MSU Formula SAE team placed sixth overall in the Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) 2012 FSAE-West competition, held for the first time in Nebraska at the Lincoln Airpark, in June. A field of 73 teams from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil competed. Also, for the first time in university history, the MSU Solar Car Team competed in the American Solar Challenge (ASC) cross-country race.The College of Engineering was one of three recipients of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and ExxonMobil 2012 Impact Award in recognition of its efforts in retaining underrepresented minority students in engineering programs.
Kelly McElroy became the first in the College of Engineering with a bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering (ENE) last December. Although the major was instituted just two years ago, Kelly was in a unique position to obtain the first bachelor's degree because she had completed all of the foundational courses and had been pursuing the environmental engineering option within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Fourteen freshmen signed up for the ENE bachelor's degree in the fall of 2011 and other students are expected to graduate with a BS in ENE by May 2013.
Another College of Engineering "first" this year was the establishment of the Alpha-Delta chapter of the Phi Sigma Rho National Engineering Sorority at MSU on Dec. 1, 2012. The chapter also named Bernadette Friedrich as an honorary member for her service to women engineers and to acknowledge her help in establishing the MSU chapter.
Other important measures of our growth include the tremendous expansion of the College of Engineering research portfolio since 2006-07. Our success in attracting funding from both government and industry sources for our groundbreaking research has grown tremendously. In the past five years, we have added several major, prestigious federally-funded research centers, including: the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, a $25 million National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center; the Center for Revolutionary Materials for Solid State Energy Conversion, a $12.5 million Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and one of the most advanced thermoelectric power generation research groups in the world; and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), one of three national centers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct transformational biofuels research. The GLBRC, established in 2007 with a five-year and approximately $125 million award, is led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in close partnership with MSU. In addition, MSU was named one of seven institutions nationally to host the new USAID-funded Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) to catalyze new approaches and tools for solving some of the world's most challenging development problems. The $25 million Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI) development lab hosted by MSU will involve the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering in efforts to promulgate sustainable food production and consumption over the next 10-15 years.
In the most recent fiscal year, College of Engineering faculty members submitted nearly 500 research-funding proposals. Among those projects that were funded, 12 exceeded $500,000 each, and five awards exceeded $1 million. In fiscal year 2006-07, the college had a total of $29.5 million in research expenditures. In fiscal year 2011-12, we set a new record of success, with $53.4 million in research expenditures representing the scientific discovery engaged in by our exceptional faculty members and students.
Of course, the ultimate measure of research success is in our ability to transfer the technology developed in our labs into the marketplace to fuel the economy of Michigan and the world. In 2012, there were five options/licensing of engineering technologies from MSU and three new start-ups by College of Engineering faculty members.
The strength of our faculty is a point of growing pride. Five years ago the college had no members in the prestigious National Academy of Engineering; today we have three (Percy A. Pierre, Joan B. Rose, and Rodney J. Tabaczynski). Many other faculty members were recognized this year for their significant academic, research, and distinguished career service accomplishments. Among them:
Seungik Baek, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received an NSF CAREER Award for his work in cardiovascular mechanics and characterization of biomaterials.Ajit Srivastava, chairperson of the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, received the James R. and Karen A. Gilley Academic Leadership Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.Thomas F. Wolff, associate dean for undergraduate studies, was elected national vice president of Chi Epsilon, the national civil engineering honor society.K. N. Subramanian, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, received the 2012 Electronic, Magnetic, and Photonic Material Division Distinguished Scientist Award from The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society.Syed Anwar Hashsham, professor of civil and environmental engineering, was among 10 MSU faculty members to receive a Distinguished Faculty Award in recognition of his comprehensive and sustained record of scholarly excellence in research and/or creative activities, instruction, and outreach.Guomin (George) Zhu, associate professor of mechanical engineering, was named a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).Teresa VanderSloot, undergraduate student advisor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, was named the 2012 Walter Adams Advisor of the Year for her long history of serving students at MSU.The MSU Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement recognized the team of College of Engineering staff members Tim Hinds and Sandra Christlieb, and Stephen Blosser, from the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, for their work in incorporating service learning into the EGR 100 curriculum. Susan Masten, professor of civil and environmental engineering, was also recognized for her work with Engineers without Borders.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) named two members of the College of Engineering faculty as IEEE fellows. Matt Mutka, professor and chairperson of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, was recognized for his contributions to distributed computing, mobile computing, and networking. John Verboncoeur, professor of electrical and computing engineering, was recognized for his contributions to computational plasma physics and plasma device applications.
Self-powered sensors developed by Shantanu Chakrabartty, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, were recognized as the Innovation of the Year at the MSU Innovation Celebration. Evangelyn C. Alocilja, professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering, was also recognized as Innovator of the Year.Bruce Dale, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, was listed #27 in the Biofuels Digest 2011-12 list of Top 100 People in Bioenergy, and ranked second among academics.
Several critical administrative appointments that are helping to move the college forward in its focus on excellence were undertaken in 2012.
Neeraj Buch was named chairperson of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering after having served as interim chair following the departure last year of Ronald Harichandran. Dr. Harichandranleft MSU to serve as dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering at the University of New Haven, Conn. Dr. Buch had previously served as director of the first-year Cornerstone and Residential engineering program.S. Patrick Walton, associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science, was named the new director of the program, recently renamed the CoRe (Cornerstone and Residential) Experience.Daina Briedis, associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science, was named to the new position of assistant dean for student advancement and program assessment. In that role, she is responsible for student advancement, program assessment, and assisting in other areas of the undergraduate studies program as well as ABET accreditation.Our efforts in international engineering collaborations were invigorated by the introduction of Mary Anne Walker as director of International Engineering Programs. In this new role, she brings together faculty and staff members in the College of Engineering and partner colleges—both at MSU and elsewhere—to initiate new multidisciplinary international research projects and internship opportunities for students, and to develop global partnerships.
To meet the growing need for professionals who can analyze large data sets to guide business decisions, MSU is launching a new graduate program in business analytics. The Broad College of Business, in partnership with the colleges of Engineering and Natural Science, will offer a master of science in business analytics beginning in January 2013.
Our collective success is all the more remarkable with the backdrop of a national and world economy that have struggled through a recession and slow recovery. Unemployment in Michigan, about 7 percent in 2007, peaked at more than 14 percent in 2009, and today hovers at around 9 percent.
Five years ago we inaugurated the Center for Spartan Engineering, a resource center for both students and prospective employers. In addition to its increased visibility, The Center instituted a number of programs focused on helping prepare students for careers and bringing them together with prospective employers, including Engineering Expo, E-Week activities, hallway events, the Engineering Intern Exchange, involvement in CoRe programs and student organizations, and Spring Break and International Corporate Tours. Use of the College of Engineering career services shot up - from 60 percent before The Center was initiated to more than 80 percent today - the highest rate on campus. Our overall placement rate (of graduating seniors who had either found career-related employment or were attaining further education within six months of graduation) has inched up from 93 percent in 2006 to 96 percent in 2011-12. More telling is the number of students who were hired by Michigan employers, adding to Michigan's knowledge economy - 37 percent in 2006-07; 51 percent in 2011-12. In a recent Wall Street Journal review, MSU ranked 15th in return on investment (ROI) for college cost vs. salaries for graduates - ahead of Harvard (24), the University of Michigan (32), and Yale University (33). A November 2011 New York Times survey also placed MSU 20th in the U.S. and 39th globally among schools from which corporate leaders recruit.
Against the backdrop of a recession, our support among alumni and industry has remained strong. In 2011-12, the college raised $6,251,000 – a little better than $200,000 more than was raised in 2006-07 when the state's economy was substantially stronger, and a 30 percent increase over 2010-11. In the past five years, we have documented just over $33 million in gifts, including an average of six new endowed funds each year. Recent significant gifts from industry include a generous gift from NEC that will support ongoing research on fingerprint matching and face recognition within Anil Jain's Pattern Recognition and Image Processing (PRIP) Lab. GE Transportation and Bosch LLC have joined Consumers Energy/the Consumers Energy Foundation as corporate sponsors in the CoRe Experience Theme Partnership program. Through the partnership, these organizations are involved with both the academic and co-curricular activities of the CoRe Experience. A new GE-sponsored transportation themed gathering area was installed on the third floor of East Wilson Hall last spring and a new Bosch-sponsored innovation and creativity hub will be dedicated this spring.
Michigan has begun to move forward in the recovering economy, and MSU will continue to play a key role in helping the state to compete successfully in a global knowledge economy. The College of Engineering remains committed to an academic, research, and outreach agenda that spurs innovation for the technological advancement that will drive our economy forward.
Again, I thank you for all you do to support our progress.