Research centers

Michigan engineers know it doesn’t always take a big grant to solve a big problem – but it certainly helps. The largest ongoing projects led by U-M engineering faculty aim to solve some of the planet’s toughest challenges.

valerie bertacco

Center for Applications Driving Architectures (ADA)

The Center for Applications Driving Architectures, or ADA, will develop a transformative, “plug-and-play” ecosystem to encourage a flood of fresh ideas in computing frontiers such as autonomous control, robotics and machine-learning.

The center is a five-year project that’s led by U-M and includes researchers from a total of seven universities, pending final contracts: Harvard University, MIT, Stanford University, Princeton University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Washington.

ADA is led by director Valeria Bertacco. Other U-M collaborators are Todd Austin, Baris Kasikci, Wei Lu, Dennis Sylvester and Thomas Wenisch 

hybrid army vehicle

Automotive Research Center

The Automotive Research Center (ARC) operates at the crux of military, academic, and industry research and advancement for ground vehicle systems. Sponsored by the U.S. Army as a Center of Excellence, the University of Michigan team, led by Bogdan Epureanu, collaborates with industry and university partners to address gaps in mobility, survivability and operational efficiency. ARC projects assess, design and implement tools and technology to this end.

Other U-M collaborators are Andre Boehman.

student uses device to check for radiation

Consortium for Verification Technologies

Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is a top priority for the U.S. Leading a $25 million grant from the National Nuclear Security Administration, Sara Pozzi, an associate professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences, works with colleagues at 13 universities and eight national labs to develop new tools and expertise. The Consortium for Verification Technology, which spans policy, engineering and education, is analyzing nuclear nonproliferation efforts, improving technologies for monitoring weapons-grade materials and detecting secret weapon tests, and training the next generation of nonproliferation experts.

Other U-M collaborators are Chief Scientist David Wehe, Zhong He, John Lee and Kimberlee Kearfott, professors in nuclear engineering and radiological sciences, and research scientists Marek Flaska and Shaun Clarke. U-M President Emeritus James Duderstadt serves on the project’s advisory board. 

From the left, an array of dots becomes ball-and-stick molecular models. Next are electron microscope images of nanostructured particles and on the right, a lifelike network of filaments. A wavy surface traced out by a grid overlays the sequence of images.

Center for Complex Particle Systems (COMPASS)

COMPASS, led by Nicholas Kotov, is a collaborative home for theoretical, experimental, and computational researchers who are developing a systems-level approach to particle-based matter for sustainable energy-efficient manufacturing.

A people-first culture grounded in equity, diversity, and inclusion is integrated throughout Center leadership, research, education, training, and outreach activities.

COMPASS is a five-year $30 million center funded by the National Science Foundation. U.S. university partners include North Carolina State University, Wayne State University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Chicago State University, Northeastern University and the University of Southern California. Industry partners include Boeing, Airbus,, and Aurora Flight Sciences as well as the manufacturing organizations LIFT and America Makes.

Other U-M collaborators include Science Lead Sharon Glotzer, Education Lead Ronald Larson, Technology Lead Ellen Arruda, and Knowledge Transfer Lead Pierre Ferdinand Poudeu.

cygnss illustrated above the clouds

Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System

Improving hurricane and extreme-weather prediction is the goal of a new $151.7 million NASA satellite project. Led by U-M’s Christopher Ruf, and part of NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder program, the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) launched in 2016. The system uses a constellation of eight small satellites in orbit to receive signals scattered by the ocean surface from Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. The mission will probe key air-sea interaction processes that take place near the inner core of the storms, helping advance forecast and tracking methods.

Other U-M collaborators involved in CYGNSS include Derek Posselt, Aaron Ridley and Perry Samson.

scientist standing over light conversion apparatus

MURI Center for Dynamic Magneto-Optics  (DYNAMO)

The MURI Center for Dynamic Magneto-Optics (DYNAMO) seeks to use the magnetic properties of light for purposes such as energy conversion (including the production of electricity). With a $7.5 million grant from the Department of Defense, Stephen Rand, professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is leading a collaboration among U-M, Northwestern University, Columbia University and the University of Central Florida.

Collaborators at U-M include John Whitaker, Jinsang Kim, Richard Laine, Anthony Bloch, Fred Adams and Franco Nori.

server with yellow wires showing

PRedictive Integrated Structural Materials Science Center

Many innovations only become possible when the right material is accidentally discovered. The goal of the PRedictive Integrated Structural Materials Science Center, or PRISMS, is to change that. By developing a predictive understanding of how structure relates to material properties, researchers will be able to engineer materials that have the qualities that they need to invent new technologies. This effort to model materials from the macroscale to the nanoscale is led by John Allison, a professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and is backed with $11 million from the Department of Energy’s Materials Genome Project.

Other U-M faculty and staff working on the grant are Larry Aagesen, Samantha Daly, Krishna Garikipati, Vikram Gavini, Margaret Hedstrom, H.V. Jagadish, Wayne Jones, Emmanuelle Marquis, Brian Puchala, Veera Sundararaghavan, Katsuyo Thornton and Glenn Tarcea. In addition, over 15 students and postdocs are actively involved in this program.