Great Things Newsletter

Centennial Fund supports 100-year engineering programs for Second Century

For 100 years, the University of Detroit Mercy’s engineering programs have been defined by a character of quality, a spirit of service and a vitality that is continually renewed through innovation. Science and technology are powerful engines for making the world better, and our engineering graduates can help change the world. 

Engineering Centennial

More than 340 guests attended the Engineering Centennial Gala, Sept. 30 at the Henry Ford Museum.

According to Engineering & Science Dean Leo Hanifin, “We not only teach our students to be competent engineers, we imbue them with the confidence, the mindset and the passion to become change agents.”

To assure that the UDM’s engineering programs continue to sustain their historic quality and impact, the College has created the Centennial Fund. “This fund will help us attract the next generation of engineering students to UDM that is larger, better prepared and more diverse,” explains Hanifin.

The Second Century portion of the fund is being used for new programs, faculty development, enhanced learning tools, scholarships and pre-college programs. The Centennial Fund also is being used to heighten awareness of UDM’s engineering programs through a marketing campaign and Centennial activities this year.

To date, the fund has raised more than $1 million with a first-phase goal of $1.5 million. Generous support has come from corporations and engineering alumni (see Students will directly benefit from the fund, including the incoming class. To highlight the Centennial anniversary, the first 100 freshman engineering students to enroll for Fall 2012 will receive a free laptop computer loaded with engineering software.

UDM’s engineering programs have a tradition of assessing the needs of industry and meeting those needs along with encompassing new technology in courses that educate students in emerging fields. Last year, UDM initiated engineering courses in electric vehicles for 100 working engineers who have since put that knowledge to work at Ford Motor Co. Other company-based workshops and online courses are in the works. Another hallmark, which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary, is the co-op program that aligns a student’s area of study with paid work experience.

“Developing academic programs that are responsive to the emerging needs of corporations and communities give our diverse, well-prepared students more depth in specific fields and vastly enhance our programs,” says Hanifin. “The Engineering Centennial Fund will allow us to build on our strengths to make a dynamic impact on education. Our graduates are already doing great things at automakers, utilities, transportation, healthcare systems and other industries.”

While many of the programs build on an engineering foundation, UDM is also adding more entrepreneurial and “intrapreneurial” (inventing within a corporation) courses, environmental engineering, biomechanics and mechatronics. The latter uses robotics as a platform to build highly complex electro-mechanical systems that synthesize perception, intelligence and high-speed responses. Robots are one example; others are the anti-lock breaking system (ABS), cars that park themselves, systems that enable soldiers to detect improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and prostheses controlled by a sensor. 

These educational advances were among the highlights celebrated at anniversary events this fall. For the full Centennial events calendar and photo gallery, visit

To contribute to the Engineering Centennial Fund, please contact Barbara Milbauer, assistant dean for Development, College of Engineering & Science, at 313-993-3360 or