From the Dean
Michigan Engineering has been a pioneer in the evolution of mechanical engineering for nearly 150 years. In the late 1800s, the University’s Regents approved a proposal to separate mechanical engineering from civil engineering, with a new focus on machining, power and marine engineering. This effort ultimately led to a new naval architecture program—and the first naval architecture tank built by an educational institution.
In the early 1900s, the College strengthened ties with business and industry. Mechanical Engineering’s labs kept pace with commercial developments. Newly rooted in hard science and experimentation, the department rose to national preeminence. Students came to campus from across the United States and other countries, leading to a ten-fold increase in the department’s size in 40 years.
Following World War II, Mechanical Engineering was a leading recipient of federal support for space research—prior to the establishment of NASA. Also during that era, the College’s visionary sixth dean, George Granger (G.G.) Brown, played a key role in creating programs in science engineering and nuclear engineering.
In the late 1970s, taking advantage of developments in computing, Mechanical Engineering research spawned Mechanical Dynamics, Inc., the world’s largest developer and supplier of mechanical systems simulation software.
And now, with a modern emphasis on interdisciplinary research, the department begins a new era. On April 8, the College held groundbreaking ceremonies for a new 60,000+ square-foot addition to the G.G. Brown Laboratories. This state-of-the-art facility will be dedicated to a wide spectrum of research activities where mechanical engineering intersects with emerging technologies, leading to advances in: nanoscale metrology, single-molecule bioengineering, nanoscale energy conversion, nanomanufacturing, nano- and microelectromechanical systems for medical research and diagnostics.
This $46-million complex is made possible in part by a $9.5-million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for the project’s Center of Excellence in Nano Mechanical Science and Engineering. The Office of the Provost, the State of Michigan, alumni, friends and corporate partners also have been essential to making this endeavor possible.
This major undertaking is the first part of a larger G.G. Brown makeover. Upon completion of the addition, the College will begin a renovation of the original G.G. Brown facility to update its instructional space and infrastructure. Altogether, this project will preserve an important piece of Michigan Engineering’s history and help prepare the way for our future.
I look forward, with great anticipation, to the wonders that will emerge from the new G.G. Brown. You should, too. This project will help Michigan Engineering continue as a pioneer in creating solutions to the big societal challenges of today and tomorrow.
David C. Munson, Jr.
Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science