Category Archives: Engineering

Faculty Spotlight: Na Zhu of UM-Flint Engineering

Na (Linda) Zhu, PhD, joined the UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences in Fall 2016 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

Na (Linda) Zhu, PhD, of assistant professor of mechanical engineering

Na (Linda) Zhu, PhD, of assistant professor of mechanical engineering

Read below to learn more about her and the field of mechanical engineering, or join her in one of her Winter 2017 classes:

  • EGR 315 – Machine Element Design (TR, 2:30pm-3:45pm)
  • EGR 466 – Engineering Design II
    (W, 9am-11:30am, + (5) Friday meetings)

Students can register now at or find more information at

Research Interests:
Acoustics, vibration and noise control, signal processing, sensor and controls, automotive engineering

Why are you passionate about your field?
Acoustics, vibration and noise control in mechanical engineering has been a very practical yet challenging problem in the engineering area for decades, including applications not only in machine design, structure analysis and de-noising, but also in signal detection, acoustic emission for non-destructive evaluation, quality control, etc. In recent years, while media players, hearing-aid related devices, and cell phone industries rapidly grow, the demand of the de-noising, or say, audio/music extraction from background noise, becomes a new topic for mechanical engineers.

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach?
Noise and vibration, sensors and signal processing, machine design, introduction to automotive engineering, and hybrid vehicle design

What is your latest or favorite research project?
My research is emphasis in the areas of noise control  and signal processing. I am now working on development of innovative technology for extracting specific acoustic features from mixed signals that may be contaminated by various unknown interfering signals and random background noise. The technology can be used on audio related devices and structure health monitoring.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
Brought up in a family surrounded by engineers and academic professionals, I have always dreamed of working in the engineering field. I selected mechanical engineering as my major because it fit my interest and skills best.

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
I hope I can bring new research projects to UM-Flint and make the mechanical engineering discipline stronger and more attractive. I want to share my knowledge and experience with students and help them be well prepared for their future career, which will also benefit the community and industry.

What do you hope for students in your field?
Engineering is a traditional yet fast growing field. I hope the students in engineering have a solid background of engineering knowledge as well as an open mind for creative ideas and innovative designs, and that they are always updated with the latest technologies.

What are three things you think people should know about you?
I want to be a friend to my students, not just somebody giving lectures and exams to them.
I practice yoga every day.
I am a big fan of manga (comic books). If you want to talk about Naruto, One Piece, Attack on Titan, etc., you can always come to me.

To learn more about engineering at UM-Flint, visit To register for courses, visit or

UM-Flint Engineering’s Off-Road Racer Visits the “Bricks”

Downtown Flint during Back to the Bricks

Downtown Flint during Back to the Bricks

Each August, Back to the Bricks celebrates Flint’s legacy as part of the automotive industry and brings nearly half a million visitors to the downtown area. On the Friday of this famous weekend UM-Flint hosts Go Blue on the Bricks, its annual alumni gathering. This year visitors to both events can get up close and personal with UM-Flint engineering‘s most recent student project: an off-road racer created for a Baja SAE competition.

The racer’s presence will give those gathered a chance to see the level of work being done by current students—more notable, perhaps, as it was completed in their free time outside of class.

The vehicle is student-designed and built. They cut, shaped, and welded steel and aluminum into automotive parts, developed an electrical system, and repurposed brakes from mopeds in the university machine shop. It is a great example of UM-Flint engineering’s dedication to hands-on learning, but it was also fun for the students—especially driving it in competition. Said junior Hassan Freeman, “It was awesome. When you drive this car, nothing exists except you and the track, and maybe the guy you are passing.”

UM-Flint engineering students and faculty with their off-road racer

UM-Flint engineering students and faculty with their off-road racer

On Saturday, August 20, the racer and members of UM-Flint engineering will join other area educators at the Hot Rod High (HRH) display during Back to the Bricks. Noted HRH co-founder Robert Ayre, “This year’s exhibit will feature all of our local colleges, and some of our best high schoolers in the city. We try to give our area youth an opportunity to explore the mechanical side of the automobile. We are encouraging their active participation in our auto-related careers, education, and hobbies.”

The Hot Rod High display will be located on the south side of the flat lot along 1st street.

John O’Brien, UM-Flint engineering technician, hopes that over the two days he and his students will be able to meet individuals interested in pursuing a degree in engineering and community members who want to be involved with the UM-Flint engineering program. Said O’Brien, “The Baja Racer and projects like this show the outside world that we have an engineering program. . . This is a win for the university and a win for the students as well.”

For more information on UM-Flint Engineering, call 810.762.3131 or visit

CAS Faculty Join UM-Flint Celebration of Teaching

Shelby Newport of Theatre & Dance and Amy York of Physical Therapy discuss peer observation at the 2016 UM-Flint Celebration of Teaching.

Shelby Newport of Theatre & Dance and Amy Yorke of Physical Therapy discuss peer observation at the 2016 UM-Flint Celebration of Teaching.

Throughout the year, UM-Flint’s Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching (TCLT) acknowledges and advances excellence in teaching throughout campus. This spring they put a spotlight on that excellence with their annual Celebration of Teaching. The event marks the end of another academic year while fostering conversation and connections between faculty from around the university.

The 2016 event opened with a welcome by Tracy Wacker, director of the TCLT. She applauded the gathered faculty for the ways in which they are advancing teaching at the university.

The keynote address was given by Dr. Tom Wrobel of Psychology on the theme of the “Multiple Identities of a Teacher.” He talked about all of the facets of a teacher’s soul: a journeyman to the student apprentice, exposing them to the richness of each discipline; a salesperson, selling each area of study to students; an actor, putting on an excited face for the explanation given dozens of time before—remembering that the content is fresh for each batch of students; a lens, encouraging students “not just to see, but to see through”; and in some ways a parent.

He closed by noting that students also affect each faculty member’s identity, for “in trying to become a better teacher, you can’t help but become a better person.”

Learning from Peers

Tracy Wacker of the TCLT discusses the upcoming conversation with the Celebration of Teaching panel

Tracy Wacker of the TCLT discusses the upcoming conversation with the Celebration of Teaching panel

A faculty panel, made up of individuals from the College of Arts & Sciences, SEHS, and SHPS, spoke on “Advancing Teaching Excellence at UM-Flint.” Members included Scott Caddy of English, Jessica Camp of Social Work, Seung-Jin Lee of ERS and CSEP, Shelby Newport of Theatre & Dance, Joyce Piert of Mathematics, and Amy Yorke of Physical Therapy.

Newport and Yorke opened the discussion together, talking about their experiences with peer observation.

They discussed the unexpected ways in which their disparate disciplines, theater and physical therapy, gave surprising insight into each other’s teaching spaces and methods.

For example, Newport offered feedback on use of space that reflected her experiences with staging plays. From that, Yorke learned to stage her students and classrooms for more effective communication.

Yorke, while giving a lesson on touch in her physical therapy course, inspired Newport to think about the ways in which she talks to students about applying stage makeup. For both, a softness of touch was needed to convey expertise and confidence.

Both were surprised by the amount of common ground they found in observing each other’s teaching methods and disciplines. Newport said she loved finding, “connections from unlike sources,” and Yorke added, “as teachers, we have so much in common.”

Emily Feueherm of English at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Emily Feueherm of English at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Seung-Jin Lee spoke on his experience of being brought to campus to “bridge the gap between environment and engineering.” To do so, he’s established a course that will help engineering students think about sustainability, “not just performance, but the consequences of design.”

His goal with the course is to help his students not only make products that have a sustainable design, but also come from sustainable systems. He hopes to inspire the students to be more “aware of making the world a better place.” For example, how do you redesign a computer so that its components and the energy it uses are not negatively impacting the world in which it works?

Panel member Joyce Piert of Mathematics speaks at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Panel member Joyce Piert of Mathematics speaks at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Joyce Piert of Mathematics discussed Teaching Circles on campus, and the ways in which they have enhanced her time in the classroom. Teaching circles bring together educators from many disciplines for conversations on their personal experiences in the professional world. She noted that, surprisingly, the sessions became a place of healing for her and others as they discussed shared moments.

Jessica Camp of Social work presented on her redesign of a senior capstone course as a new faculty member, and its expected and unexpected outcomes. The new course structure allows for senior projects to be student driven and community focused. Camp noted that she wanted her students “to be able to recognize social justice issues that need to be addressed,” and then to “research and apply action.” The capstone ends with an annual event at which the students present their research projects to the community and campus.

Camp noted that having the freedom to identify and drive their own research builds important and individual skills. It “helps students identify where their passion lies and move forward in this incredibly diverse field.”

She hopes the new student-driven model will help her students stand out when entering the job field after graduation, saying “[the] industry is looking for self-sufficient and self-motivated individuals [who can] think intentionally and critically about these issues.”

Associate Dean Roy Barnes of CAS at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Associate Dean Roy Barnes of CAS at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Scott Caddy teaches English 111 and 112, courses required by nearly every student at the university and ones in which he learned a great deal about being a teacher. While helping his students learn that making mistakes is okay, and that it will lead to stronger writing, he found that the same is true for being an educator.

Said Caddy, “It’s important to create a space where ‘failure’ is acceptable and you find ways to evolve and change your approach.”

Caddy’s powerful message about giving yourself permission to fail resonated with the faculty in the audience. It led to intense discussion about the importance of sharing both successes and failures with peers, and utilizing campus resources like the TCLT to have such conversations and gain feedback and support.

Powerful Conversation

Following the panel discussions, the Celebration of Teaching audience broke into small groups for a discussion on Teaching Moments. The TCLT staff prompted discussion by asking the groups to discuss the 2015-2016 academic year and the best thing that happened, the most surprising thing, and a powerful realization they had as teachers.

Faculty members share ideas on Teaching Moments at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Faculty members share ideas on Teaching Moments at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Audience members reflect on the 2015-2016 academic year at the Celebration of Teaching.

Audience members reflect on the 2015-2016 academic year at the Celebration of Teaching.

After the groups had come back together and shared their findings, Scott Johnson, Dean of the School of Management, noted the small groups’ findings shared “the common theme of self-awareness, learning as a person, and being honest that you have vulnerabilities.” He added, “it’s a really special thing to be a teacher, but this applies to all walks of life.”

For more information on the Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching, and the ways in which they work to advance educators at UM-Flint, visit their website:



UM-Flint’s 2016 Engineering Design Day

Each year, graduating UM-Flint Engineering students design, fabricate, and present Senior Design Projects as a culmination of all they have learned. This year they were able to present their work to the campus during Engineering Design Day and also to their Industrial Advisory Board later the same week.

To decide on projects, each student in the capstone course presents an idea relevant to their personal interests and skills. The class votes and the winning ideas are adopted as final projects. The students break into teams based on project choice.

The projects can be inspired by academic competitions, improvements to existing industry equipment, and social or community needs. Two of this year’s projects were responses to needs or issues at the students’ jobs.

With the projects, the students gain experience in working with clients, staying on budget and schedule, and managing both test results and expectations—all in addition to demonstrating their considerable knowledge of engineering practices and equipment use.

Dean Susan Gano-Phillips of the College of Arts & Sciences attended Engineering Design Day and spoke with students from each of the project teams. She noted, “Engineering Design projects are the culmination of students’ experience in the Engineering Program. It is exciting to see the innovative and creative ideas of our students brought to fruition in these collaborative projects.” Gano-Phillips was impressed to learn that all of the graduating students who were ready to enter the workforce already had jobs lined up.

Following are the 2016 Senior Design Projects:

Gear Test Fixture

UM-Flint Engineering students discuss their senior design project.

UM-Flint Engineering students discuss their senior design project.

Students: James Pung and Brendon Stokes

This project was directly related to student work at Nexteer Automotive. Much of the product development was done on site in Saginaw, MI.

According to the students’ abstract, “The scope of this project is to develop a gear test fixture that will test strength of a weld joint to attach a worm gear to a drive shaft. The worm gear and shaft assembly are used to drive an electric power steering system at Nexteer Automotive. The fixture must be capable of evaluating the reliability and strength of the weld joint to avoid failure. The fixture was designed to apply load on the gear assembled on the shaft. In the event of weld failure with an applied load, the load will decrease and the gear will stop rotating. The applied load and displacement of the gear will be recorded throughout the test in order to compare the load and number of cycles at which failure occurred.”

They concluded that the “new test fixture was able to perform the test efficiently and was able to meet the requirement specified by Nexteer Automotive.”

Portable Water Filtration System

Professor Mojtaba Vaziri of UM-Flint Engineering examines a senior design project.

Professor Mojtaba Vaziri of UM-Flint Engineering examines the portable water filtration system.

Students: John Gagnon and Nathan Calvert

This group set out to create a water filtration system that was suitable for a wide variety of users, from hikers trying to lighten their loads to children in developing countries who need clean water. The group considered “ease of use, weight, size, rate of flow, capacity, and FDA approval” in their design decisions.

The group notes, “Engineering analyses were performed to determine pressure drop, sterilization time, power consumption, and stress due to impact. Most of the components were designed and developed using a 3D printer technology with ABS plastic materials. The filtration system was tested using environmental protection agency guidelines for drinking water quality.”

To meet all of the standards proposed, the project underwent several adjustments during the design process, including material changes, choosing a different pump, and overall design modifications.

Human-Powered Vehicle (HPV)

Members of the Human Powered Vehicle group pose with the UM-Flint Engineering Senior Design Project

Members of the Human Powered Vehicle group pose with the UM-Flint Engineering Senior Design Project

Students: Xingyu Chen, Aleah Pavlicek, Terence Staples, and Brandon Walker

This project was inspired by the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge, an annual competition held by the the American Society of Mechanical Engineering. The competition challenges students to think of new ways to provide feasible transpiration options to rural, underserved, or developing populations.

The UM-Flint students considered maneuverability, stability, load-bearing and cargo space, and speed/stopping in their design choices.

Five Speed Manual Transmission System

Dr. Quamrul Mazumder, Associate Chair and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, operates the transmission project.

Dr. Quamrul Mazumder, Associate Chair and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, operates the transmission project.

Students: Kenneth O’Brien, Liwei Zhao, and Yang Zhou

Per this group, “The objective of this project was to design, develop, manufacture and test a five-speed transmission system that could be used for teaching and modeling in engineering classrooms. The gearbox was designed with several clear plastic viewing panels to observe the operation of the system. Furthermore, the components were designed for visual demonstration while running at lower speeds. Finally, a flywheel was added to the gearbox to measure rotational speeds. Most of the gearbox components were designed and manufactured using a 3D printer and computer aided design software. Material properties were verified using a tensile tester, the prototype assembly that was tested has met design specifications and required performances.”

This educational model will “demonstrate features, such as shaft, gear, keyed shafts, bearing, and the interaction of different components in the transmission system. Students will be able to measure the input power, input speed and output speed by using speed sensors or tachometers. The transmission model will also aid classroom labs, as students will be able to make predictions and test maximum speeds of the output shaft.”

The group declared the project a success and a “great learning experience.”

Inspection and Rescue Robot

One of the Rescue Robot group members speaks with Dean Gano-Phillips about their final product.

One of the Rescue Robot group members speaks with Dean Gano-Phillips about their final product.

Students: Erik Leaske, Joshua Wakefield, and Yufei Fan

Students in this group wanted to address the number of employee deaths each year that result from the need to inspect confined or hazardous spaces. Their answer came in the form of a small robot that could traverse pipes and other closed environments like heating or ventilation ducts and sewer pipes.

The robot was built on an aluminum frame with consideration given to protecting the camera and electrical components in places that may be wet. The group explored both Wi-Fi and autonomous capabilities as they tried to prepare for the wide variety of uses for their project. Although future improvements could include a plastic frame, “the robot was successfully tested for mechanical performance and design criterion.”

Tugger Cart for Powder Coating Process

UM-Flint Engineering students pose with their tugger cart project.

UM-Flint Engineering students pose with their tugger cart project.

Students: Dan Larson, Zach Stevenson, and Sandeep Solanki

According to this group, “There are many hazards associated with the industrial powder coating process. Powder coating operations require the use of curing ovens at high temperatures. The high temperature environment exposes employees to many hazardous situations when they remove carts from the oven. The objective of the project was to develop a system to eliminate the need for an employee to enter the oven. The previous system wasted large amounts of energy due to repeated heating and cooling of the oven to allow employees to enter the oven. A remotely controlled tugger cart would eliminate the need for cool down resulting in an increase in productivity while reducing employee risk. The cart was designed to travel under the racks to move the rack out of the oven. Critical performance requirements included safety, reliability, ease of operation and long battery life. The cart design used a modular concept that is versatile for use in different applications. Additional tests were required to test for the robustness of radio communication to ensure reliability. The proposed cart also had to be cost effective compared to similar systems available in the market.”

As with other projects, this one answered a real-world issue at a student’s employer and also has the potential to greatly increase safety for workers.

For more information on the UM-Flint Engineering, visit

Giving Blueday – December 1, 2015

Impact students. Start a journey. Fund the future.

On Giving Blueday, Tuesday, December 1, 2015, we are asking you to donate any amount you can to the departments or programs that mean something to you. Even $5 makes a difference if everyone gives!

We also ask that you share the stories of our programs’ requests–so others can give, too!

Read below for specific requests and links for each of our programs.

Give proud, give loud, and GO BLUE!


AfricanaStudies.StampAfricana Studies
The Africana Studies Department is dedicated to diversity and global awareness. To do so they utilize literature, theatre, film, and traditional academic studies. Each year they bring Africa Week to the Flint Community and they work with the Flint Public Library to present a visiting writer or author.
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Dr. Aiyer was an associate professor of anthropology and a passionate researcher and teacher. The Regents of the University of Michigan regarded him as “a valued student advisor [and a] respected leader in his department.” Make a gift to his namesake scholarship and help future students who demonstrate a special commitment to education.
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The Biology Department is celebrating two of its dedicated faculty by requesting gifts to their memorial funds. The Eugene “Doc” Studier Scholarship offers research support to Biology graduate students. The Holly Sucic Memorial Scholarship serves students in the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology programs.
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ChemBio.StampChemistry & Biochemistry: BLECKER CHEMISTRY SCHOLARSHIP
Professor Harry H. Blecker was the founder of the Department of Chemistry and a faculty member from 1957 to 1989. This fund honors him and helps Chemistry students complete their studies at UM-Flint. In his obituary, Professor Blecker’s family said “It was important to him to help future generations. This vision was his passion for working with thousands of students at UM-Flint.”
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ComVisArts.StampCommunication: UM-FLINT DEBATE TEAM
The UM-Flint Debate team has had a winning tradition at national-level debate for the last few years. Gifts made to this fund will allow the team to continue traveling and debating at tournaments near and far. Although housed in the Communication Program, the team is open to all UM-Flint students. Give today and keep them the Victors of Debate!
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ComScience.StampComputer Science & Information Systems
Help fund study and research by Computer Science & Information Systems students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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CriminalJustice.StampCriminal Justice
Help fund study and research by Criminal Justice students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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EarthScience.StampEarth & Resource Science
Help fund study and research by Earth & Resource Science students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the department leaders.
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Economics.StampEconomics: SCHOLARSHIP FUND
The Department of Economics awards $500 scholarships every semester to our highest achieving majors. These scholarships allow students to cover any cost associated with attending, such as tuition, books, fees, etc.  Our students are very grateful to the generosity of our donors, as these scholarships make a meaningful impact on their lives.
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Help fund study and research by Engineering students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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Every student has to buy books, but English majors have to buy a LOT of books! In the department we try to keep book costs as low as we can, but the reading remains essential. We were all cash-strapped English majors ourselves, and that’s why we want to establish the English Book Scholarship Fund. For us, anything we can do to defray these expenses is worth doing, but we can’t do it alone.
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FLLshortForeign Language & Literatures: MONICA KARNES SCHOLARSHIP
Monica Karnes was a student in Spanish at UM-Flint. Although she was seriously ill, she “continued to pursue her education . . . demonstrating a commitment to excellence which is in the best tradition of the University.” Our UM-Flint Chapter of the Phi Sigma Iota Int’l Foreign Language Honors Society established this fund in 1985 in her memory “to benefit students who share Monica’s hopes, her dreams, and her spirit.”
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Help one of our students travel to London, England, for our first international internship! This experience will have a profound effect on their love of history and future studies and career. The student will work at the Museum of London.
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InterGlobalStudies.StampInternational & Global Studies: STUDY ABROAD SCHOLARSHIP
Named for Dr. Matthew Hilton-Watson, associate professor of Foreign Language and the Director of the International and Global Studies Program, this scholarship helps undergraduate and graduate students travel the globe. Give the gift of experience, diversity, and expanded horizons to UM-Flint students while you pay tribute to Dr. Matt.
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Math.StampMathematics: FAMILY MATH NIGHT
Twice each year the Math Department hosts Family Math Night, a free event where young children and their families have fun together with math. The kids learn two important lessons: math can be fun, and they can do it! Help us continue this tradition of community engagement and inspiring future mathematics majors!
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Voice. Instrumental. Classical. Jazz. Contemporary. Music can mean so many things, but, at UM-Flint, each definition has passionate students in common. Your gift to this scholarship will help future Music majors follow their dreams toward a life of making music. Encourage them to embrace creativity! This is an endowed scholarship, so your gift will be continuous.
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Our Candace Bolter Scholarship is $2,500 away from reaching endowment status. Once endowed, the scholarship will always be available to fund future Philosophy students. Says past recipient Thomas Mann, “[scholarships] give the student the sense that someone else believes in what they’re striving for, and for the student, that can mean the world.”
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Help fund study and research by Physics students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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PoliticalScience.StampPolitical Science
Help fund study and research by Political Science students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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Help fund study and research by Psychology students by donating to their general gift fund. This ensures donations go to the area of highest need, as dictated by the program leaders.
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Professor Albert Price served as Director of the Master of Public Administration Program for 24 of the its 35 years. He was also one of the program’s best known faculty members and a mentor to many of its graduates. Donations to this scholarship will help future MPA students complete the program that means so much to Dr. Price.
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Gifts to this fund will benefit our students AND our city! Established in 2010 to honor the memory of Professor Wilfred Marston,
this endowed fund supports students who undertake a civic engagement project with a sociologically relevant research component that focuses on the improvement of Flint.
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Official.Theatre.Horz.Sig.png.binTheatre & Dance: FRIENDS SCHOLARSHIP
This fund supports Theatre & Dance students as they cultivate the necessary tools, both artistic and personal, to meet the demands of an ever evolving world and profession. With your support our students will stand ready to take a place of responsibility in the community at large and excel as fearless artists, flexible workers, and compassionate citizens. Thank you for giving!
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Visual Arts & Art History: STUDENT TRAVEL
The Visual Arts and Art History Faculty would like support for students and student travel for Giving Blueday. In summer 2015 our students traveled to Paris, France. They loved the experience and can already see the benefits of their time there. Your gift will allow future Visual Arts & Art History students the chance to expand their horizons and find new inspiration!
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WomenGenderStudies.StampWomen’s & Gender Studies: CRITICAL DIFFERENCE FUND
The WGS would like gifts to be made to the Women’s Education Center Critical Difference Fund. This small grant helps students facing emergency situations stay in school. Says one recipient, “I believe this grant is important because everyone needs help sometimes and even the littlest thing can save a life.” Give today and be a victor for those who need it the most.
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WritingCenterlogoWriting Center: C. SCOTT RUSSELL SCHOLARSHIP
The C. Scott Russell Scholarship helps writing students with the expense of higher education. The scholarship is awarded to students enrolled in English 109: College Writing Workshop based on their writing improvement and financial need. ENG 109 is designed as an independent study in writing. Students focus on writing issues that interest them and are important to their academic success.
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CAS Faculty Welcomed and Honored at 2015 Convocation

On Monday, August 31, both new and seasoned faculty gathered together for two events: the Academic Affairs Convocation that welcomes new faculty and celebrates our award-winning, promoted, and long-serving faculty members, and the Thompson Center for Learning & Teaching‘s pre-convocation workshop titled “The Actual and the Possible: Cultivating Learning at UM-Flint.”

The workshop featured sixteen faculty presentations, with representatives from each school or college at UM-Flint, focused on innovative and effective teaching methods used in (or out of) classrooms.

The College of Arts & Science was well represented with six faculty speaking on topics ranging from technology to storytelling.


Brian DiBlassio discusses teaching musical elements online.

Brian DiBlassio, Associate Professor and Chair of Music and recipient of the Provost Teaching Innovation Prize, was the first CAS faculty member to present. He discussed the ways in which he brings music alive for online students–where formerly they had only static words on a screen to inform their lessons. By incorporating video, moving graphics, sound, voiceover, and popular media, DiBlassio is able to answer the “challenge of teaching arts purely through text.”

Nicholas Kingsley, Assistant Professor from the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and recipient of the Lois Matz Rosen Junior Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, spoke to his peers about technology that works for both his teaching style and his students’ needs. From interactive digital presentations to a pen that allows recording and playback of his method for working through complex problems, Kingsley demonstrated how his technology choices serve students in the classroom and create resources for future use.


Pat Emenyonu from the departments of English and Africana Studies listens to a presentation at the TCLT pre-convocation workshop.

Jill Slater, Lecturer of Biology, presented on this past spring’s Cell-ebration: a science symposium she created to inform and inspire students from all of her classes. Slater combined more seasoned students’ experiences and newer students’ questions to present cellular research being done across her courses. Her event engaged students in new ways and allowed there to be a focus on what happens after they learn research methodologies in lower level courses. All students came away with skills they can use later in their academic studies and in their professional and research careers.

Thomas Henthorn, Assistant Professor of History, spoke on an oral history project from his class Gods in the City. Henthorn uses the lesson to emphasize listening and communication skills while students explore new topics and religion through their interviews with community members. He spoke about the value of an assignment that can’t be simply gathered from online sources. Said Henthorn, “as wonderful as technology is . . . most of the world’s important business happens face to face.”


Erica Britt talks about Vehicle City Voices and the stories of Flint residents.

Erica Britt, Assistant Professor of Linguistics in the English Department, continued with the storytelling theme by talking about her Vehicle City Voices project. Britt has utilized both graduate and undergraduate students in her collection, coding, and presentation of stories from residents around the city of Flint. In addition to being a documentation of memories, her project is a study in the vocal patterns of speakers in Flint. Students created transcripts and developed word-level, phrase-level, and sentence-level analysis on their collected stories.

Margaret Ware, Lecturer in Biology, was the final CAS speaker of the day. In her discussion she showed how combining factual health histories with fictional characters allowed her students to have a more involved and engaged experience when completing a case study project. Students worked individually to create a story from lab data and then as a small group selected their favorite story or combined elements to create a new one. Ware noted the students were able to utilize a wide variety of skills, including the unusual combination of creative writing and scientific data collection.


UM-Flint faculty, staff, and administrators listen to presentations at the TCLT’s 2015 pre-convocation workshop.

After all the presentations were made, participants had small table discussions to talk about their favorite methods from the day and also to share their own unique methods of teaching. The event was closed by TCLT’s Tracy Wacker who spoke to the joy of teaching and learning as she wished all a successful Fall 2015 semester.

The focus on UM-Flint’s teaching excellence continued later that afternoon at the Academic Affairs Convocation in the UM-Flint Theatre.


Provost Doug Knerr welcomed faculty back to another year of excellent teaching.

The event began with an introduction by Chancellor Susan E. Borrego and a warm welcome from Provost Doug Knerr.

Faculty Awards were announced, with CAS faculty claiming eight of the nine honors:

Lois Alexander, Professor of Music: Teaching Excellence Award

Lixing Han, Professor of Mathematics: Scholarly or Creative Achievement Award

Kathy Schellenberg, Associate Professor of Sociology: Distinguished Service Award

Ernest Emenyonu, Professor of Africana Studies: Alvin D. Loving Senior Faculty Initiative Award

Karen Salvador, Assistant Professor of Music: Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Junior Women Faculty Award

Peggy Kahn, David M. French Professor and Professor of Political Science: Dorthea E. Wyatt Award

Nicholas Kingsley, Assistant Professor of Chemistry: Dr. Lois Matz Rosen Junior Excellence in Teaching Award

Traci Currie, Lecturer of Communication and Visual Arts: Collegiate Lecturer Award

Ricardo Alfaro, David M. French Professor and Professor of Mathematics, was also honored as the UM-Flint nominee for the Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year Award.


Traci Currie receives a congratulatory hug from Chancellor Susan E. Borrego


Professor Ricardo Alfaro receives his Presidents Council Sponsored Faculty Award from Provost Doug Knerr


Assoc. Professor Kathryn Schellenberg receives her Distinguished Service Award from Provost Knerr as Chancellor Susan E. Borrego looks on

Services awards were given to those who have been at the university for 10, 20, or 40 plus years:

Ten years or more: 
Jacob Blumner, English; Traci Currie, Communication & Visual Arts; Michael Farmer, CSEP; Janet Haley, Theatre & Dance; Terrence Horgan, Psychology; Jason Kosnoski, Political Science; Maria Pons-Hervas, Foreign Languages & Literatures; Jie Song, Chemistry & Biochemistry; and Jeannette Stein, Psychology

Twenty years or more:
Jamile Lawand, Foreign Languages & Literatures; Paula Nas, Economics; Stevens Wandmacher, Philosophy


Assoc. Professor Jason Kosnoski receives his Faculty Service Award for 10 years or more of service


Interim Dean Susan Gano-Phillips announced new and promoted faculty of CAS.

Promoted faculty were celebrated (click here for a full story), with those moving from assistant to associate or associate to full professor being named by Interim Dean Susan Gano-Phillips.

From associate professor with tenure to professor with tenure:
Lois Alexander, Music; Jami Anderson, Philosophy; Roy Barnes, Sociology; John Stephen Ellis, History; Michael Farmer, Computer Science and Information Systems.

From assistant professor to associate professor with tenure:
Dauda Abubakar, Africana Studies and Political Science; Julie Broadbent, Psychology; Daniel Coffield, Jr., Mathematics; Rajib Ganguly, Physics; Christopher Heidenreich, Music; Daniel Lair, Communication; Vickie Jeanne Larsen, English; Shelby Newport, Theatre and Dance; Greg Rybarczyk, Earth & Resource Science.

In addition to honoring our more seasoned faculty, the convocation also serves as a welcome to new faculty. The College of Arts & Science welcomed ten new faculty members:

Karen Bedell, Lecturer of Psychology; Halil Bisgin, Assistant Professor of Computer Science; David Duriancik, Assistant Professor of Biology; Jason Jarvis, Lecturer of Psychology; Jacob Lederman, Instructor cum Assistant Professor of Urban Sociology; Jeffrey Livermore, Lecturer of Computer Science; Brian Schrader, Lecturer of Communication; Amanda Kahl Smith, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice; Matthew Spradling, Assistant Professor of Computer Science; and Amanda Taylor, Lecturer of Psychology.

Each of the new faculty will be more thoroughly introduced to the campus and community through CAS Faculty Spotlights, located on the CAS website, throughout the Fall 2015 semester.

The College of Arts & Sciences would like to offer sincere congratulations to all of our faculty on their awards, recognition, promotion, or introduction to the University of Michigan-Flint. We are looking forward to a wonderful academic year of service and teaching.

Image Created During International Space Station Research Wins Prize in Art Competition


“Soot: In the Wink of an Eye” – an image pulled from research done on the International Space Station – has won an award for Technical Merit in the 2015 Combustion Art Competition. Asst. Professor Liu of CSEP was one of the submitting team members.

Assistant Professor Yu-Cheng (Frank) Liu of the Department of Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics has his PhD roots at Cornell University, and those roots are connecting research from the International Space Station to an art competition at the 2015 International Combustion Symposium in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Combustion Art Competition has been a part of the Symposium since 2004. Says Liu, “In every year’s U.S. National Combustion Meeting, combustion researchers submit their ‘art pieces’ (image or video or any form of art) from their research topic and form a art gallery exhibition during the meeting/conference.” The pieces are judged by the attendees through a ballot. Dr. Liu’s team submission, “Soot: In the Wink of an Eye” won this year’s Honorable Mention for Technical Merit. Other members of his team were Yuhao Xu and Thomas Avedisian of Cornell University and Michael Hicks of NASA.

The research that produced the image was taking place during Liu’s time at Cornell, and has continued on with others since his departure for the University of Michigan-Flint. The specific flame extinguishment experiment that produced the above image was carried out aboard the International Space Station.

According to NASA’s site, “The Flame Extinguishment – 2 (FLEX-2) experiment is the second experiment to fly on the ISS which uses small droplets of fuel to study the special spherical characteristics of burning fuel droplets in space. The FLEX-2 experiment studies how quickly fuel burns, the conditions required for soot to form, and how mixtures of fuels evaporate before burning. Understanding these processes could lead to the production of a safer spacecraft as well as increased fuel efficiency for engines using liquid fuel on Earth.”

When asked about the process of working with astronauts on the International Space Station, Liu said, “We scientists are watching live-streaming video sent from ISS to NASA-Glen Research Center and to Cornell via internet when the experiments are taking place on ISS. We do spend a lot of time to extract data from those images, but that’s after the experiments were done.”

The connection between art and engineering may not seem obvious to some, especially in a science as specific as combustion, in a substance as common as soot, or on a scale as small millimeters. Says Liu, “People doing combustion research usually have beautiful flame images to be proud of . . . The projects we worked on do not usually contain beautiful images. A lot of times we are working with a huge amount of data. It is when we were able to finally visualize the trend of data and interpret the meaning that becomes valuable knowledge and we start to realize and appreciate the beauty of science.” Liu found special merit in the “idealty of the spherical droplet flame.” The attendees of the Combustion Art Competition agreed.

To see all of the 2015 winning entries, visit


Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Yu-Cheng (Frank) Liu.

To learn more about the Engineering Program at UM-Flint, and other research work done by Dr. Liu and his colleagues, visit or

Engineering Students Present Senior Projects

On April 10, 2015, engineering students from EGR 465/466 Senior Design presented their senior projects to a full room of fellow students and university staff, faculty, and administrators, including Dr. Terry Van Allen, Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and Chris Waters, Associate Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

This was the first time that senior engineering students have presented their works to a general campus audience. In the past, presentations have been made to the program’s alumni advisory board.

The event was coordinated by Assoc. Professor Quamrul Mazumder. He defined it as “a comprehensive demonstration of everything [the students] are learning in engineering.” As the students went through their presentations, covering items like project characteristics, design overview, prototype test plans, feedback and redesign details, budget, and testing, the audience could easily see the myriad ways in which these students have been prepared for their future careers in engineering.

The first group was made up of students Dan LeBlanc, Frank Hyde, Conner Geml, and Joe Jerisk. Their project was inspired by Solar Splash, “an intercollegiate solar/electric boat regatta” for which students design and build watercraft powered by solar and electric engines while adhering to very specific design parameters.


A digital rendering of the boat and its solar-charging set up.

The UM-Flint students started with an existing fiberglass vessel purchased online, unlike other schools whose students build boats specifically for the competition. During the presentation it was noted their boat “wasn’t perfect, but we made it work.” The group’s biggest challenge was designing the battery, which had to weigh less than 100 lbs., must include a dead man switch, and had to be a lead-acid type. It was a challenge they overcame. Their battery is charged by an on-shore solar panel and powers a pulley-style motor that runs the propeller. The students also faced significant challenges in designing and creating the motor, propeller, shaft, and rudder.


The boat on one of its test runs.

Although the UM-Flint students and their boat won’t be competing at this year’s Solar Splash event, they ran their finished project through several of the event’s trials including straight line speed and maneuverability. Because they were limited by availability of open water, they did not test for endurance of battery life. All members of the group seemed satisfied with their craft’s results as they presented videos of their test runs to the audience.

PROJECT TWO: SAE Airplane Design

Group Photo

Group Two testing their plane in Grand Blanc’s Bicentennial Park.

The second team of the day was made up of Justin Ladd, Connie Lam, Scott Sier, Qijun Tang, and Morgaen Vauter. This team followed the mission of the SAE Aero Design Series which aims to “provide undergraduate and graduate engineering students with a real-life engineering challenge.” Their specific goal was to create an operational and controllable aircraft that did not require special tooling or processes to build and which could be easily repaired should something go wrong during flight. The bigger goal, in line with the SAE Series, was to design a light plane that could carry a relatively heavy load.


The plane as a concept design and in the building process.

The wings, propellers, and tail of their aircraft all underwent stringent design development processes. For example, characteristics for four different wing designs were considered; each design’s weight, lift, stability and control, and manufacturability were rated, with the highest scoring design winning. The conventional wing design won out over a bi-plan, canard, or flying models. A conventional tail and front propeller were each chosen through a similar process. The group utilized the campus’ 3D printer, balsa wood, and mylar to create the plane body.

On flight days, the group recorded the temperature, wind speed and direction, and humidity. The plane was tested both on and off campus, with each short flight giving them input on adjustments and compensations that needed to be made for future tests. Their focus on easy repairs came in handy after several rough landings.

Final View

The final product created from balsa wood, 3-D printed parts, and mylar.

The group closed with some final plans for their plane, including adjusting materials to withstand crashes, more consideration given to the weight the plane should eventually carry, and increasing stability during flight.

PROJECT THREE: Build a CNC Machine
Group three was made up of students Jin Liu, Zhongehen Du, and Jonathan Arcocha. Their goal was to build an affordable and compact computerized numerical control (CNC) machine that would appeal to hobbyists, universities, students, and others with limited budgets and space. CNC machines use software to direct a tool in an exact way, turning out a consistent product. A common example would be an engraver. Tools used by CNCs can include metal drills, lasers, water jets, plasma cutters, and wire.


The CNC machine designed and built by Team 3

After putting in over 450 man hours, the team was able to produce a machine that would match or exceed most current small-scale CNCs on the market in its ability to output pieces in both amount of time spent and size. And, with a budget of less than $700, their price tag was thousands of dollars less than the cheapest small commercial model. Large models, they noted,  easily run into six-figure prices.

The students stressed the difficulty and importance of creating a piece that, from the start, is perfectly level and even. Arcocha noted that if the machine itself is off even a fraction of an inch, there is no way it can create pieces that aren’t off as well. Although they completed construction, the team was unable to do much testing as they had an issue with their drivers at the end of the project. However, they seemed eager to continue testing once their new drivers arrive.

PROJECT FOUR: Design and Develop a Food-Grade Latch Clamp
Students Benjamin Jennings and Jianchao Zhong worked together to create a clamp that would be used to hold lids on large containers such as industrial vats or freezers. Working with customer specifications, the pair had to come up with a clamp that suited both size and strength requests, while still maintaining food-grade standards that allow for cleaning and inhibit bacterial growth.

After using equipment on the UM-Flint campus to design, machine, and test the various clamp parts, the two were able to produce a final product that met and even exceeded their original expectations. The students were especially proud of the parts they hand forged and machined. Using still shots, 3-D designs, and video, the pair walked the audience through their project experience, future plans, and testing ideas.

PROJECT FIVE: Robot for Relief

The fifth team included students Kawshik Ahmed, Siwen Zhao, Olugbadebo Adeyemi, and Xiaoy Ma. They were unable to present along with the others, as they were away at an American Society of Mechanical Engineers development conference where they won the student design competition! Their design challenge, Robots for Relief, tasked students with creating a robot able to provide aid when human intervention in a situation is not possible. The robots should be able to do things like deliver water or medical supplies, carry a heavy load, fit in not easily accessible spaces, and traverse uneven or difficult terrain. Read their competition story here.

All of the students presenting reported coming in under budget on their projects, and all expressed thanks to the department and university for the resources they provided. From solar panels, to equipment, to spare parts, the labs and shops at UM-Flint were able to furnish much of what each group needed. It was also obvious that the skills these students have learned during their time in the Engineering program provided them with foundation necessary to produce such advanced senior projects.

For more information on the Engineering Department at UM-Flint, visit their website. For information on student projects, email Dr. Quamrul Mazumder at


UM-Flint Faculty Members Awarded Research Grants

Congratulations to the following faculty, who were recently awarded grants from the Research and Creative Activity Committee:

• Jessica Kelts, Assistant Professor of Chemistry/Biochemistry, received $10,975 for her project The Effect of Media Changes and Cell Washing on Cellular Glutathione Content and Potency of Cytotoxic Compounds.

• Mark Allison, Associate Professor of Computer Science, received $14,487 for his project Autonomic Control of Cyber-Physical Systems using Domain-Specific Models.

• Mihai Burzo, Assistant Professor of Engineering, received $19,542 for his project Noninvasive Real Time Detection of Human Comfort for Increased Energy Savings in Building

• Seung-Jin Lee, Assistant Professor of Engineering and Earth and Resource Science, received $15,515 for his project Energy and Environmental Implications of Electric Vehicle Adoption: A Scenario-Based Life Cycle Assessment Study of the Future of Advanced Transportation in Michigan.

• Frank (Yu-Cheng) Liu, Assistant Professor of Engineering, received $17,282 for his project Investigation of Preferential Vaporization of Multi-Component Fuel Mixtures Using Mid-Infrared Absorption Techniques.

• Charlotte Tang, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, received $16,025 for her project Designing Technologies to Enhance Visitor Experiences at an Art Gallery.

Congratulations to the following faculty, who were recently awarded grants from the Dr. Ben Bryer Fund.

• Joe Sucic, Professor of Biology, received $ 8,162 for his project Environmental Stress as a Trigger for Metastasis in Breast Cancer Cells.

For more information on the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at UM-Flint, visit their website.

Giving BlueDay – Tuesday, December 2nd

BLUEDAY_smallOn Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014, the University of Michigan is asking you to turn Giving Tuesday into Giving BlueDay – a day of online giving to the funds of U of M, including UM-Flint. The College of Arts & Sciences is encouraging donors to pick a specific fund and the amount that is right for them – even $5 donations mean a lot to our departments!

Following are links to our department and program funds, some of them discuss the specific needs your gifts will go to fill. For those that do not have a specific purpose listed, donations will go into their general gift fund and can be used as the department chooses. We hope you can help us make this a successful day of giving, and make a difference for our students!

AFRICANA STUDIES: Funds received will help establish a scholarship that supports Africana Studies Majors and Minors and honors former Chancellor Charlie Nelms who “intensified the university’s emphasis on student success, setting ambitious goals for increasing student retention and graduation rates.”


BIOLOGY: We have an ongoing need for undergraduate/graduate research support as well as scholarship support. Donations to the following funds will make a positive impact on the academic and career success of Biology students: William R. Murchie Science Fund, Eugene Studier Memorial Research Scholarship Fund, and the Holly Sucic Memorial Scholarship Fund.

CHEMISTRY & BIOCHEMISTRY: The Chemistry & Biochemistry Department would like to put funds towards the purchase of equipment that will enhance and expand students’ learning opportunities. We hope to both enrich their time at UM-Flint and better prepare them for real-world experiences!





ECONOMICS: Funds given will be used to fund the Economics Club Scholarship that is given every semester to an Economics major to pay towards any aspect of their schooling, including tuition, books, and fees. Help us continue to provide this support to our club and students!


ENGLISH: We want to reinstate the English Department’s Visiting Writer Series, which was a victim of budget cuts. The series will bring nationally and internationally renowned authors to UM-Flint to meet with classes and the community. Help us bring back this meaningful tradition!

FOREIGN LANGUAGES & LITERATURES: We ask that gifts be made to the Monica Karnes Memorial Scholarship Fund. This fund was established in 1985 by students in the UM-Flint Chapter of the Phi Sigma Iota Int’l Foreign Language Honors Society to “benefit students who share Monica’s hopes, her dreams, and her spirit.”



MUSIC: Funds donated to the Music Department during GivingBlue Day will be used towards the purchase of a concert grand piano. This instrument will benefit solo performers, as well as vocal and instrumental performances of many musical genres–and the audiences who listen to them!

PHILOSOPHY DEPT.’s CANDACE BOLTER SCHOLARSHIP FUND: We are just $3,000 away from having our Candace Bolter Scholarship reach endowment status. Once endowed, the scholarship will always be available to help fund future Philosophy students. Help us to help others study Philosophy!





THEATRE & DANCE: Students of the Theatre and Dance Department have a variety of high impact travel opportunities available, but often need help in funding their trips. Donations made to the Theatre & Dance Department will be used to diversify the avenues of support available to their students.

VISUAL ARTS: Funds will go to print-making equipment for our new concentration, funding student travel to museums and architectural tours, a vent for the wood shop, and torches to teach flame-working. Help us expand our students’ learning experience by giving to Visual Arts!

WOMEN’S & GENDER STUDIES: The WGS would like donations intended for them to be made to the Women’s Education Center Critical Difference Fund. This small grant is intended to help students who are facing emergency situations stay in school. The grant assists some of our most at risk students, many of whom are returning women and first-generation college students. DONATIONS MADE TO THIS FUND ON GIVING BLUEDAY WILL BE MATCHED UP TO $200!

If you do not see a fund you’d like to give to on the above list, browse all the options, including Research, Scholarships, and more, within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Whether you give or not, please share this blog’s link on your social media feeds to spread the word about Giving BlueDay!