New centers prepare students for industry, service-sector’s computer needs

Impact, Winter 2002

Photo: Tony Takeuchi, chairman of Denso International America Inc. (third from left) presents a check for $150,000 to the College of Engineering & Science to fund the Denso Team Design Center. Accepting the gift for the University are James J. Padilla (E&S ’69, GR ‘70), vice chair of The Legacy Campaign Committee; UDM President Maureen A. Fay, O.P., and E&S Dean Leo E. Hanifin (E&S ’69, GR ’72, ‘75).




Three new centers in the Engineering Building are examples of how UDM’s relationship with industry benefits the University and its students as well as the organizations providing the support.

Denso Team Design Center

A $150,000 gift from Denso North American Foundation has made this new center possible . The Denso Team Design Center gives students the opportunity to collaborate on group-oriented projects, in keeping with the teamwork environment so prevalent in industry today. The Center will accommodate those students in all engineering areas with major design projects and other projects requiring group planning and presentation.

The Center will have a PC and UNIX workstation in each of the five areas. The UNIX stations will be networked to the Ford FACT Center, UDM Engineering and Science’s central UNIX lab. This allows students to be more efficient and productive since it avoids the need to move about the building to perform each task.

The Center is Denso’s second contribution to UDM in two years. Last year, the automotive supplier supported the University with a $30,000 gift that was used to help renovate a classroom.

Ford Center for Computing

Through a major grant from Ford Motor Company, a long-time, active supporter of UDM’s engineering program, the College of Engineering and Science has developed a facility intended to dramatically change the focus and quality of computing education offered at UDM. The Ford Center for Computing (FCC) will offer inter-related computer science and computer engineering programs to address the changing needs of industry and the service sector. The programs will offer the latest developments in distributed, parallel and imbedded-intelligence computing and communications systems.

The FCC’s purpose and structure is based on the interdependence and synergy between computing hardware and software. Its faculty, labs and programs are designed to integrate the two disciplines to facilitate more powerful and effective computing systems and better prepare computing professionals for the marketplace.

Degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s levels will focus on computer science or computer engineering. The Doctor of Engineering degree is a more broadly defined degree. Other cross-disciplinary degree or certificate programs involving information technology also will be centered in the FCC.

The FCC includes two new major laboratories:

  • the Networking Lab and
  • the Distributed and Parallel Processing Lab.

They complement existing facilities including:

  • Microprocessor Lab
  • Digital Signal Processing Lab
  • Integrated Circuit Design Lab, which was created through a grant from the National Science Foundation
  • CAD/CAM/CAE Lab, which was created also through a grant from Ford, and
  • Engineering and Science PC Lab, created through a grant from General Motors.

The new Ford Center for Computing also represents a partnership between the faculty in the areas of computer science and computer engineering. Faculty members are charged with developing a new curriculum, new learning and teaching methods and new lab resources to reflect the close relationship of the two disciplines.

“By designing a flexible curriculum and administrative structure, we should be able to respond to changing technologies and market initiatives more quickly than larger, more traditional schools,” says Leo Hanifin, College of Engineering & Science dean.

An industrial/academic advisory board, comprised of professionals in both computer engineering and computer science, will guide the FCC’s initiatives.

Visteon Product/Process Development Center

And the third new center is being made possible by a three-year, $500,000 commitment by Visteon Corporation to UDM’s College of Engineering & Science. The Visteon Product/Process Development Center will house laboratory facilities where students can test the feasibility of their design ideas by building prototype models. An area reserved for team meetings and work sessions will be equipped with workbenches and the machine tools needed to create functional prototypes. Students at all levels, from freshman to doctoral candidates, will be able to use the center’s facilities to transfer their ideas into reality.

“The design-build facilities funded by Visteon will enable students to see first-hand which of their ideas will and will not work, and why,” explains Hanifin. “The center will emulate the professional workplace setting where ideas generated by brainstorming can be designed, built and tested.”
This is the first major grant to UDM from Visteon since it spun off from Ford Motor Company in 2000. Visteon also participates in sponsoring the College of Engineering & Science’s Mexican-American Partnership student-exchange program and the Slide Rule Dinner, which recognizes the achievements of engineering and science students and alumni.