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engineering building

UDM celebrates 100 years of Engineering education

Historical Highlights

The prestige of UDM’s engineering programs has been a century in the making. This fall, the College of Engineering & Science began celebrating the Engineering Centennial with a series of social events, educational meetings and special presentations to reflect on the achievements and focus on the future.

Over the past 100 years, more than 13,000 engineering graduates have earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in 13 different engineering disciplines from the University. Those engineers have excelled in their fields, with many rising to high level positions in a wide variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, chemical, civil engineering, computing, construction, defense, electronics, energy, intellectual property, and many more. Others have become leaders of national laboratories and federal agencies, and still others have become leaders of engineering education, including four deans of engineering colleges.

“I am humbled to have followed the exceptional leaders who served as dean. Innovators like the first dean, John McColl, who launched the engineering program, the second at any Jesuit university in the nation (just after Marquette University), and one of the first three to require co-operative education . . . Clement Freund who served as dean for 27 years and was nationally recognized as a leader in experiential education . . . Lawrence Canjar who reorganized the graduate programs and added the Doctor of Engineering Program . . . and Warren Baker who brought engineering and science together into one college emphasizing the interdependencies between those fields. I am honored to be the first dean of engineering who graduated from our University,” said Dean Leo Hanifin.

As the Engineering program reaches the cusp of its first and second centuries, it is also appropriate to take a snapshot of the engineering programs and people. Here are a few elements of the mosaic of engineering at UDM today:

• The engineering faculty are a “community of teaching scholars,” regularly receiving awards for teaching excellence and grants for innovative teaching materials and methods.

• Engineering students win or place very high in many national and international engineering contests, such as the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition and the ASME Innovation Show Contest.

• UDM ranks very high nationally in attracting and graduating minority and female engineering students; minority and female students each typically comprise 25 to 33% of the engineering student body.

• New degrees, concentrations and minors have recently been created in such areas as entrepreneurship, bioinformatics, advanced electric vehicles, architectural engineering and environmental engineering.

• Student design projects reflect the College’s motto, “Envision a Better World, Then Create It,” by focusing on service themes, such as assistive technologies for people with disabilities, transit design for Detroit, renewable energy, and resources for the homeless.

• Pre-engineering programs annually serve over 4,000 students in Detroit between 4th and 12th grades through Saturday classes, summer camps and curriculum that motivate and prepare them for careers in engineering and science.               

College of Engineering & Science Dean Leo Hanifin notes, “This 100th anniversary is a prestigious milestone for the University and the City of Detroit, but it goes well beyond that. The legacy of our engineering program is felt by the people and places that have been positively impacted by the knowledge, skill and ingenuity of our graduates and faculty.

In recognition of this significant anniversary, the University has launched the Centennial Fund, a fund development program to underwrite the Centennial events and provide support for the future of UDM’s engineering program. The latter, called the Second Century program, will support student recruitment and scholarships, and program and faculty development in emerging technologies.

Read more about the history of the Engineering program at UDM.