UM-Flint Engineering celebrates change, growth

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UM-Flint engineering students work on a project in the new design studio
UM-Flint engineering students work on a project in the new design studio

UM-Flint Engineering, part of the College of Arts and Sciences' (CAS) Department of Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics, has become a source of exciting change at the university.

"The changes we've made in engineering support values we hold for all CAS students, including critical thinking, real-world problem solving, and high standards of performance," said CAS Dean Susan Gano-Phillps, PhD. "A STEM degree with a liberal arts foundation is powerful preparation for navigating our changing world and leading a satisfying life."

Notable growth began with ABET accreditation for the mechanical engineering program in 2014. Recent developments include opening a new engineering design studio and learning space on campus, adding a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) degree, and hiring a new associate chair with extensive global knowledge of the engineering field.

"Students who join the UM-Flint engineering program can expect a world-class education," continued Gano-Phillips. "The new design space especially will allow us to continue our focus on providing students opportunities for hands-on research, design, and creation."

The growth in the the engineering program reflects a university trend. UM-Flint has experienced a 58% enrollment increase in STEM majors over the past 10 years.

A Grand Opening

The new UM-Flint engineering design studio faces Kearsley and Harrison streets with its tall windows. The bright, open space is filled with work stations, tools, equipment, and a classroom. Students have access to 3-D printers, a wind tunnel, milling and lathe machines, heat and refrigerant testing areas, and much more. Past senior design projects and the program's Baja Racer are proudly on display.

Faculty members of the UM-Flint engineering program at the design studio grand opening
Faculty members of the UM-Flint engineering program at the design studio grand opening

At the grand opening celebration, an event attended by well over one hundred campus and community members, students thanked university leaders for the new space. They enthusiastically noted the ease with which they could now work on projects. "It is not every day that academic administrators get to celebrate the past successes and future promise of their academic programs in such a physically demonstrable way as the opening of a new learning space," noted Dean Gano-Phillips in her remarks at the event.

UM-Flint GEMS participants working on an engineering design activity
UM-Flint GEMS participants working on an engineering design activity

Since opening, the space has played an active role in campus tours and summer activities. In June 2017, the College of Arts and Sciences hosted GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science), its first-ever STEM summer camp. GEMS participants spent time in the design studio working with UM-Flint Engineering faculty and milling machines to create colorful maize and blue tags. They also learned about the work being done by other CAS students.

A GEMS participant sits in UM-Flint engineering's Baja Racer
A GEMS participant sits in UM-Flint Engineering's Baja Racer

The New MS in Engineering

"There is no denying that a MSE degree enables greater employment opportunities and career advancement," noted Dr. Mihai Burzo of UM-Flint Engineering. "Our MSE program offers small size classes with better access to professors, as well as opportunities to engage in work experiences in faculty laboratories through directed study or thesis work."

Engineering's new graduate degree program will answer industry demand for more engineering professionals and student desire for advanced degrees. The program was designed to meet the needs of working professionals, with options for full- or part-time attendance. It will offer the benefits enjoyed by undergraduate students, with research opportunities, direct interaction with faculty, and the resources of the University of Michigan system being made available.

A UM-Flint engineering student in the design studio
A UM-Flint Engineering student in the design studio

A New Leader for UM-Flint Engineering

To help guide and foster the growth of UM-Flint Engineering, a new associate chair, Tariq Shamim, PhD, will join the College of Arts and Sciences in Fall 2017. "I am very pleased and excited to join UM-Flint," noted Shamim. "I consider this as homecoming or rejoining the family since I have had a long prior affiliation with the University of Michigan system."

Shamim earned his MSE in aerospace engineering and PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He has also served in faculty positions there and at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Additionally, he's worked with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and academic institutions in Abu Dhabi, UAE and Karachi, Pakistan. His extensive industry experience includes time with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Ford Scientific Research Laboratory.

Shamim Tariq, PhD, of the UM-Flint Engineering program
Tariq Shamim, PhD, of the UM-Flint Engineering program

"The engineering program at UM-Flint has a very bright future," continued Shamim. "I hope my experience in student recruitment and retention, accreditation, and curriculum development will help me in contributing to further development of the engineering program.

When asked about his hopes for the future of the program, he replied: "I hope that we can add more experiential learning components in our program. In addition to developing analytical skills, I hope that our program will also assist students in developing innovation and entrepreneurial skills. I also hope to develop stronger ties with our industrial partners to ensure that the program and its graduates meet their needs. I hope that we will be able to establish a distinct and proud identity of our program in the region."

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