U-M Regents approve Ph.D. programs in automotive systems engineering and information systems engineering to begin in September 2009 at Dearborn campus.

November 20, 2008

DEARBORN / Nov. 20, 2008---The College of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan-Dearborn will launch Ph.D. programs in information systems engineering and automotive systems engineering beginning in fall 2009, following the approval of the proposals by the U-M Regents at their meeting in Ann Arbor Nov. 20.

“This is a great development for our campus, reflecting the quality of our faculty and facilities and our commitment to meeting the needs of our region for advanced engineering know-how,” according to Chancellor Daniel Little.

“Industry leaders from automotive companies, tier-one suppliers and other local companies have long urged us to establish doctoral programs in engineering, and this proposal reflects years of thinking, planning and deliberation,” Little said.

The main focus of the proposed programs will be to provide advanced knowledge and research experience to engineers and scientists employed in engineering and research at local companies, according to CECS Dean Subrata Sengupta.

Sengupta is bullish on the American auto industry despite its current troubles. “This is the best of times to be in the field of engineering research,” he said. “The only survivors will be the leaders and firms able to lead the reinvention of the auto industry through new technology.”

He notes that all projections call for global automotive consumption to increase for decades to come. “And many of those vehicles will be designed and engineered here in Detroit,” Sengupta said. “The automotive industry currently employs a large number of Ph.D.s, but the need will grow as the industry develops advanced technologies for safer, more fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Similarly, the doctoral program in information systems engineering comes in response to industry demand for employees who are adept at advanced Web technologies including the processing of new types of data, such as multimedia and graphics; new interface technologies; telematics; and global manufacturing logistics.

The CECS Ph.D. programs will be unique in the state of Michigan, according to Sengupta, and will not only benefit their students, but also will benefit Michigan industry by providing it with the workforce needed to maintain a strong technological base.

“With increasing globalization, students graduating with a Ph.D. in information systems engineering or automotive systems engineering will have outstanding opportunities of finding high-level engineering positions both within and outside the U.S.”

In addition, adding doctoral programs will help the campus recruit and retain faculty members. “It will allow them to be more competitive in publications, as well as research funding from federal and state agencies,” Sengupta said.

He also expects the proposed Ph.D. programs to enrich the campus’s existing undergraduate and master’s degree programs.

“The faculty will remain in the forefront of new and advanced technology through research and through teaching courses at the Ph.D.-level, and they will bring this knowledge to the undergraduate and master’s-level graduate classes,” Sengupta said. “Furthermore, there will be more opportunities for both undergraduate and master’s students to participate in research.”

CECS faculty have long been active in research areas relevant to automotive systems engineering, and have successfully obtained competitive research grants from federal agencies, the state of Michigan, and the automotive industry.

Current research activities focus on light-weight materials and processing; powertrain, combustion and thermal management; vehicle dynamics, controls, and electronics; vehicle design and manufacturing; and vehicle informatics and communication.

The proposed Ph.D. programs will rely on existing infrastructure, equipment and staff resources at the campus. Over the next six years, plans are to enroll approximately 25 to 30 full- and part-time students in both programs.

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CONTACT: Terry Gallagher
PHONE: 313-593-5518
The Office of University Relations
Room 1040, Administration Building
University of Michigan-Dearborn