The College of Engineering has experienced some major changes this year. As we settle into a new academic year, this gives me a chance to review some of them so far in 2013.

Back in March, Satish Udpa, University Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering and dean of the College of Engineering for the past seven years, was appointed Michigan State University’s executive vice president for administrative services. Although we were sad to see him depart the College of Engineering, we are proud that he was selected to be one of the senior leaders at MSU.

I have stepped in to serve as acting dean of the college, and Karim Chatti, professor of civil and environmental engineering, is acting associate dean for research.

Dr. Udpa left the college in a very good position. The momentum resulting from his passionate leadership and guidance over the past several years has carried us forward on a successful and exciting trajectory as his dreams and visions continue to come to fruition. One of them is our research enterprise, which continues to grow. In fiscal year 2011-12, we set a new record of success with $53.4 million in research expenditures.

Most recently, Karim Chatti learned in September that the Pavement Engineering Group has been awarded a USDOT University Transportation Center (Tier 1) under the theme of “State of Good Repair.” The center will be called the Center on Highway Pavement Preservation (CHP2). Karim will serve as the PI with MSU as lead of a consortium, which includes the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Texas at Austin, The University of Minnesota, the University of Hawaii, and North Carolina A&T University. The UTC will collaborate with the National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP), which is housed at MSU and is the primary outreach arm for AASHTO, FHWA and the Foundation for Pavement Preservation, FP2.  Funding for the center is approximately $1.4 million for FY 2014.

In April, the U.S. Department of Energy renewed funding for the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), giving the University of Wisconsin and MSU researchers $125 million to continue work on advanced biofuels.

In addition, a grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund, plus matching funds from Michigan State, will enable several bio-based MSU research projects to be fast-tracked for commercial development over the next three years. A total of $2.44 million will be focused on MSU biotechnology and bioprocessing innovations that have the potential to create superior value-added products and materials from agricultural-based feedstocks.

In June, MSU broke ground on the new Bio Engineering Facility, which will be located between the Life Sciences Building and the MSU Clinical Center, on the southeast edge of campus. This project involves a four-story research laboratory building that is designed to facilitate interdisciplinary research and interaction among researchers from a variety of disciplines.

Looking back at 2013, the Broad College of Business, in partnership with the Colleges of Engineering and Natural Science, began offering a master of science in business analytics in January. CoRe (Cornerstone and Residential) Experiencewas cited as a successful Living and Learning Community in the January issue of ASEE’s PRiSM magazine.

Corporate support for our programs remains strong.

  • A ribbon-cutting ceremony in February marked the opening of the "Innovation and Creative Thinking” themed floor in Wilson Hall, sponsored by Robert Bosch LLC. With a $200,000 contribution from the Bosch Community Fund, Bosch joined Consumers Energy and GE Transportation in the Engineering Theme Partnership program. 
  • Thanks to financial support from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, the college hosted the first Spartan VEX Robotics Challenge State Championship Tournament for high school students in February. Judges for the tournament included MSU College of Engineering alumni representing top employers from across the state - General Motors, Dart, Whirlpool, Denso, Autodesk, Behr and ABB.
  • For seven years in a row, the college has received funding from the Innovation Generation grant program from the Motorola Solutions Foundation in support of Research Experiences for Teachers, Research Experiences for Students, WIMS for TEENs, and robotics programs.
  • For four consecutive years, the DTE Energy Foundation has provided funding for MSU’s Engineering and Science Summer Academy (ESSA), a six-week residential program initiated in 2007 by the College of Engineering Diversity Programs Office (DPO).

Student participation has exploded since the first Design Day in Mechanical Engineering in 1993 and has spread to the various departments in the college. In April, there were 143 teams, with 618 students participating. The capstone sponsored projects included 77 teams and 38 unique corporate sponsors; 20 of the sponsors were Michigan-based companies. Our next Design Day is Friday, Dec. 6, in the Engineering Building at MSU.  

And finally, our faculty and our students continue to win awards, competitions, and accolades in recognition of their valuable contributions to engineering and to society. You will read about many of them in this issue of e-Currents.

I look forward to an exciting year as I lead the college into the 2013-14 academic year.

Thank you for all you do to support the College of Engineering.