Thomas J. Wielenga


BS, 1978
Mechanical Engineering

MS, 1979
Computer-Aided Design,
University of Michigan

PhD, 1984
Mechanical Engineering
University of Michigan

Thomas Wielenga believes that the creative process is fundamental to invention, the arts, science, evolution, and most life processes. He has spent many years interested in processes that produce new designs.

He is president of Engineering Insight, LLC – a consulting firm in the field of vehicle rollover. He has been involved in analyzing and simulating rollover accidents and vehicles since 1992. He is an expert at reconstructing rollover accidents, accurately simulating what happened in the accident and why. His career includes working for Mechanical Dynamics Inc. on extending the ADAMS simulation program, and the modeling of vehicles and rollover accidents for Chace and Associates Engineering. 

Mr. Wielenga patented a braking system that saves around a thousand lives a year in the U.S. and is implemented world-wide on SUVs and vans. He has a patent on a system for preventing rollover accidents called ARB and has licensed it for production. He also patented a method to reduce injuries and fatalities that occur in a severe second collision after an initial accident.

Additionally, he wrote a software integrator that solves Differential-Algebraic equations for mechanical system simulation.

He is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers Vehicle Dynamics Committee and his papers include one that is instrumental in the SAE Vehicle Dynamics Standards Committee for urging the use of vector notation in SAE vehicle dynamics terminology.

At MSU, he established the Wielenga Creative Engineering Professorship, an endowed faculty chair designed to kick-start the next teaching paradigm in the College of Engineering. He is interested in replacing undergraduate engineering textbooks with workbooks that compute results and illustrate concepts dynamically. The new method will reduce the cost of an undergraduate engineering education and help students be more competitive through the use of technology tools.

Mr. Wielenga has provided stipends for 15 Honors College students to work with professors as research assistants in the Wielenga Creative Scholars program. He is also a member of the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board.

He is married to Marquita (Sue) Kiss-Wielenga and has two stepchildren. The couple share their time between Michigan and Florida.

Established in 2004, the ME Distinguished Alumni Award honors a graduate of MSU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering who has a minimum of 15 years of professional experience in an engineering or engineering-related field; provides leadership in engineering, engineering education, the related sciences or technical management; contributes to the department, the college or MSU; and is actively involved in the community. The winner is selected in consultation with the department’s advisory committee and the board of visitors.