The College of Engineering at Michigan State University has a strategic research plan that is focused on five major cross-cutting research areas. They are: energy, health, materials, security, and sustainability. All of these areas have the following attributes:
- It is a problem of great importance to society, both nationally and globally.
- It is well-funded by external agencies and other sources.
- It is a deep problem that will remain important for the foreseeable future.
- We are building on existing MSU and college strengths.
- It is aligned well with one or more MSU research priorities.
There are two groups on which we are building expanded research. The first group works on alternative energy sources, including solar cells, thermoelectric materials and biobased sources. We are very strong here. The second group focuses on transportation, aspects of which have had a long, successful history in the college. Near-term growth will occur in composite vehicles, ‘field-to-wheels’ studies for powertrain design, and hybrid vehicles.
Expanded research in this area is a top priority of the college. There are several groups on which we will base our growth: nanomedicine for diagnosis and treatment, as well as for drug development; identification of critical paths in selected proteomic processes (e.g., renal, cardiovascular), using a system biology approach; and device development (e.g., telemedicine for breast examinations, non-invasive diagnosis of cardio- and other critical functions, ultrasound and microwave imaging and therapy, tissue engineering, neuroprosthetics, and new sensor development).
The potential for developing new useful materials is virtually unbounded, both from a nanoscale perspective and from a biomaterials perspective. Nanomaterials research impacts on our nanomedicine efforts, on infrastructure security research, and on alternative energy efforts, inter alia. We also have growing strength in surface coating technology, which impacts on both health and manufacturing problems.
We have two strong research groups in the area of security. The first is the built environment, such as structures and roads. The new Structural Fire Safety Research Lab is recognized both nationally and globally as a uniquely valuable resource within short order. In the information realm we are expanding the existing strong effort in information security (e.g., proving correctness of large, complex codes, and improving network security).
Building a sustainable economy requires expanded research in water, land, and air quality assessment and maintenance; we have a very strong group in environmental engineering. As our society wrestles with the problem of replacing its heavy use of fossil fuels with newer plant-based technologies, our biotechnology research effort is poised to expand in a collaborative role.