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Updated 10:00 AM November 24, 2008
 

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U-M-D to offer doctoral programs in information,
automotive engineering

The College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) at U-M-Dearborn will launch doctoral programs in information systems engineering and automotive systems engineering beginning in fall 2009. The new degree programs were approved at the Nov. 20 Board of Regents meeting.

"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," says U-M-Dearborn 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 says.

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, CECS Dean Subrata Sengupta says.

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 says. "The only survivors will be the leaders and firms able to lead the reinvention of the auto industry through new technology."

Projections call for global automotive consumption to increase for decades to come, he says. "And many of those vehicles will be designed and engineered here in Detroit," Sengupta says. "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."

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 U-M-Dearborn doctoral programs will be unique in the state of Michigan, Sengupta says, and will benefit not only their students, but the Michigan industry by providing it with the workforce needed to maintain a strong technological base.

In addition, adding doctoral programs will help U-M-Dearborn 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 says.

U-M-Dearborn's engineering faculty have been active in research areas relevant to automotive systems engineering, and successfully obtained competitive research grants from federal agencies, the state of Michigan and the automotive industry.

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

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