Ford Center for Computing opens

Impact, Summer 2003

Dedication photo:
From left: E&S Dean Leo Hanifin; James Padilla, executive vice president, Ford Motor Company and president, Ford North America; UDM President Maureen A. Fay, O.P.; UDM Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost Gerard Stockhausen, S.J.; alumnus Hank Nickol (’55) and UDM Trustee Lawrence Wisne survey the new Ford Center for Computing in the Engineering Building. The Center, which was dedicated May 14, 2003, was funded through a Ford Motor grant.



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The College of Engineering & Science continues to advance students’ computer education and training with the opening of the new Ford Center for Computing. Funded through a major grant by Ford Motor Company, the Center includes two major labs equipped to support courses in the distributed and parallel processing and networking areas.

At the May 14 dedication of the new Center, College of Engineering & Science Dean Leo Hanifin explained that the Center "will be the catalyst for a dramatic change in the focus and quality of computing education at UDM."

According to James Padilla (’69, GR ’70), executive vice president, Ford Motor Company and president, North America, "The technical focal areas of these labs are the underpinnings of the intelligent automobile of the future. We look forward to the day when these graduates hit the ground running at companies like Ford, helping to assure that Detroit will remain the automotive capital of the world."

Equipped with state-of-the-art computer hardware and software, the Center’s two major laboratories will provide a menu of powerful technologies, embracing a wide range of applications used in areas such as commerce, manufacturing and communications. The new facility will position UDM to respond to new technologies and market initiatives far more adeptly than is possible at larger, more traditional schools. The Center is also designed to provide researchers with the controlled environment necessary to evaluate and validate their research concepts.

"The car of the future will employ even more computing power, but the winners in the auto industry will have to find ways to deliver more computing and communication capability faster," says Padilla. "In these labs, the computer engineers will learn knowledge and techniques for design and analysis critical to creating highly computerized cars of the future."

The Center’s advanced computational modeling of the environmental applications will include Ocean Modeling and Visualization and the Impact of Aircraft on Global Atmospheric Chemistry used in environmental research. The Center is also involved in the exciting technologies that help the high-tech world churn like transaction processing, security and encryption, portable devices, real-time systems and audio-visual streams.

Ford Center computingData mining is another area that is concerned with the process of extracting hidden knowledge and patterns from large data sets used for risk estimation, demand prediction, fraud detection and others.

"The Ford Center’s faculty, labs and programs will integrate hardware and software far more effectively," says Hanifin. "This will lead to more powerful and effective computing systems and more capable computing professionals educated in the Center.

"The Center is an alliance between computer science and computer engineering faculty. It has resulted in the development of tightly integrated programs designed to rapidly respond to the needs of industry and the service sector," Hanifin adds. "This is a major advance for computer education and faculty research at the University."

Currently, Ford partners with University of Detroit Mercy to offer bachelor degrees and one master degree specifically tailored to Ford employees: Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering Program (BME), Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) and Master of Science in Product Development (MPD). The bachelor degrees are offered on-site at the Fairlane Training and Development Center.


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