The mission of HP-CEEP is to be a leader in incorporating engineering practice, design, innovation, and concepts of manufacturing technology at all levels of engineering education, by integrating the teaching environment with the world of practice.


  • Innovative courses and curriculum, especially in design and manufacturing.
  • Enhanced education opportunities for working engineers, integrated with undergraduate, nontraditional, and international programs.
  • A fundamental enhancement of faculty quality and orientation, by interaction with engineers in industry.
  • Affords many students the experience of direct involvement in industry-relevant activity through cooperative education opportunities and participation in collaborative research. Students also derive similar experiences indirectly through curriculum changes and case studies based on the research.
  • An environment for applied research where industrial and university personnel work together.

Research Collaboration

Our faculty conduct research in collaboration with a number of industry partners, including: Ford Motor Company, DENSO North America, DTE Energy, General Motors, TARDEC, TRW, and Kodak

Co-Op Education

The College of Engineering & Computer Science Cooperative Education Program at the University of Michigan-Dearborn is a way to close the gap between the role of student and the role of practicing engineer. The idea is to learn about the practice of engineering while you are still in school, not wait until school is over.

Henry W. Patton

Henry W. Patton II (1926-2003) was a long-time friend and supporter of the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Two years before his death at age 77 he bequeathed $3.6 million to College of Engineering and Computer Science, the final legacy of a man whose commitment to educating the next generation of engineers included decades of giving generous financial contributions, technical counsel, and professional guidance to UM-Dearborn engineering students, graduates, and faculty.

More about Henry W. Patton:

A beneficiary of the GI Bill®, a measure instituted by the US Government in 1944 to provide returning World War II veterans with a college education, Patton graduated in 1947 from the University of Colorado with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. Ten years later he founded Acromag Inc. of Wixom at the age of 31. Under his direction Acromag grew into a multi-million-dollar, international enterprise.

Ever mindful of the support the US Government had given to his education, he sought to invest in the future of American engineering and technology by sharing his knowledge and experience with engineering students. Working with the college's cooperative education program, he hired several UM-Dearborn students, providing them with invaluable professional experience. Patton was also an advocate of the college's Center for Engineering Education and Practice, later named in his honor, which works to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with industry. His expertise and guidance was shared with faculty from across the college, especially with members of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

"This mutually beneficial arrangement strengthened students' abilities to relate theory to practice," said Kurt J. Lipsky, personal representative of Patton's estate as well as Acromag's treasurer and director of finance and personnel. "Henry took an active role in making sure that co-op students were successful in their endeavors at Acromag and believed in challenging them from day one."

His involvement "gave him the opportunity to share his wealth of experience with students, one on one. He wanted to give back to the next generation of engineers and to the future of technology, an area he felt gave this country a competitive edge in the marketplace," Lipsky added.

Fifty years after its founding, Acromag is a leading designer of critical measurement instrumentation for the petrochemical and aerospace industries. Patton pioneered the use of magnetic amplifiers for process measurement applications, developing his early recognition of their potential for measuring low-level sensor signals into the basis for Acromag's success. His roughly 40-year-old design for a thermoelectric metal tester is still being manufactured by Acromag for its aircraft industry clients.

The Henry Patton Endowed Scholarship and Fellowship Fund, established with Patton's bequest, makes awards for academic financial assistance to electrical and computer engineering undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Patton's gift, in the words of Subrata Sengupta, dean of the college, has made it "possible for our college, and particularly the electrical and computer engineering department, to attract and support top-notch students." Through his contribution, Patton continues to promote the education of tomorrow's engineers at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Center History, Dr. Subrata Sengupta

"Engineering faculty should have close contact with those in business, industry, and government who are practitioners, yet the university typically rewards research publications as opposed to collaboration with practicing engineers. To counteract this problem, the University of Michigan-Dearborn's School of Engineering has established a Center for Engineering Education and Practice that has the goal of combining teaching, research, and practice in a joint effort with industry. Multiple projects are funded each year that serve to answer real questions in the engineering community, enhance the school's curricula, and provide hands-on experiences for students. The Center has made a dramatic impact on the school, both in terms of relevance of the program, and in increased student enrollment."

Metropolitan Universities: An International Forum, Winter 1997, Volume 8, Number 3.


Engineers, unlike physicians, are taught in an environment quite different from the environment of practice. Over the years this has caused distortions in values, attitudes, and, ultimately, curriculum that have negatively affected the engineering profession. Design and manufacturing have suffered the most. In addition, a reductionist model of knowledge acquisition has made a large body of emerging research useless. A mythology has developed that defines engineering as applied science, devaluing the fundamental research issues that engineering offers through its very complexity.

During the last several years, information has been obtained through meetings with over 200 industrial stakeholders at professional and management levels in large and small companies. The following observations can be made:

  • Currently, expenditure by industry on in-house education is more than the total expenditure in the United States on post-secondary education. While many programs in industry are unique and justifiably customized to specific company needs, most are generic among industries and often overlap or duplicate offerings available at universities.
  • Engineering education is a continuum that starts with the basics at the undergraduate level, followed by practical education, in-house training, on the job training, and continuing educational experience in either degree or nondegree programs.
  • In Michigan, a transition is taking place in which engineering tasks traditionally done by the Big Three auto companies are gradually being shifted to suppliers of varying size. The need for versatile engineers, especially those who can make the transition from design to manufacturing, is going to be greater.
  • Engineers are also working increasingly in an internationalized environment. Often, teams consist of engineers from various countries. Many U.S. companies have strong engineering and manufacturing links to Europe.
The Problem

Universities have not questioned existing paradigms in education and have become of marginal benefit to the education of working engineers. Apart from the colossal waste of duplication of educational capabilities between industry and university, there are significant detrimental effects in how engineers are educated. Education in industry, when isolated from universities, often becomes merely training; education of engineers in universities, when isolated from the practice of engineering, becomes sterile, irrelevant, and obsolete, especially toward the final year of undergraduate education and for most of graduate education and continuing education at the noncredit level. A particularly pernicious effect of this separation is poor quality-of-design education. Finally, owing to the dominance of models and incentives within universities directed toward liberal arts education, most engineering faculty cease to be engineers and pursue models of creativity irrelevant to engineering practice. What is needed is a structural change in how engineering education is delivered and by whom.

The Clinical Model as a Possible Solution

An approach to addressing some of the existing pathologies is to combine traditional concepts of continuing education, off-site programs, and cooperative education offered by universities with practice in teaching companies. The concept is analogous to the clinical education of physicians that includes practice in teaching hospitals. A joint industry/university center that combines teaching, research, and practice is an attractive solution. Clearly, this is easier to implement at universities that are in heavily industrialized locations. 

The Center for Engineering Education and Practice (CEEP) at the University of Michigan-Dearborn (UM-Dearborn) was founded in 1992 with support from the Ford Motor Company and the Chrysler Corporation. The Center's mission is to be a leader in incorporating engineering practice, design, innovation, and concepts of manufacturing technology at all levels of engineering education, by integrating the teaching environment with the world of practice. The Center consists of the following groups:

  • A continuing education group for engineering with participation from both university and industry, including on-site personnel from both sides.
  • A group for graduate degree programs for working engineers. This is managed by university personnel with advisory boards from industry.
  • A group for design education and research. This is staffed by faculty, graduate students, and engineers from industry on loan on part-time or short-term bases. Activities focus on design curriculum development and design instruction for undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education courses. Applied research projects will be a major emphasis.
  • A consulting group consisting of faculty, full-time engineers, and retired engineers from nearby industries. The last group is a resource to be used and nurtured. Most of these people serve on a part-time or as-needed basis. They can also serve as institutional memory and cushion the shock of losing expertise acquired once long-time employment ends.
  • Offices, classrooms, and design studios are housed in the same building, ensuring physical proximity of diverse personnel.

The benefits of the Center are the following:

  • Innovative courses and curriculum, especially in design, that can be tested and made available to other institutions.
  • Enhanced education opportunities for working engineers, integrated with undergraduate and nontraditional programs.
  • A quantum jump in design education at all levels.
  • A fundamental enhancement of faculty quality and orientation by interaction with engineers in industry. Faculty become and remain engineers.
  • Availability of trained retired personnel for consulting services, providing institutional memory for affiliated companies and ensuring that findings from practice are integrated into teaching.
  • Teaching of students by experienced engineers from industry.
  • Continual exchange of ideas between students, teachers, and practitioners;
  • An environment for applied research in which industrial and university personnel work together.
Collaboration with Industry

The components required to develop the Center were already in place in various forms at UM-Dearborn:

  • Metropolitan Detroit represents an area where challenges from foreign competition are very strongly felt.
  • Historically, UM-Dearborn was created by support from the state of Michigan and Ford to provide graduate engineers for the growing industry. This is a purpose that the university has served well, and it will continue to be an important part of its mission.
  • Ninety-five percent of the graduate students at UM-Dearborn are practicing engineers.
  • On-site degree programs at industrial sites are already being delivered by UM-Dearborn.
  • Numerous noncredit courses are offered by UM-Dearborn for practicing engineers. An advisory committee consisting of industrial representatives provides guidance for the program. Often, customized courses have been developed for industrial clients.
  • The Manufacturing Systems Engineering Laboratory, funded mostly by industry, has served as a provider of unique educational programs. It is an essential resource to the education of working engineers seeking master's degrees and has changed the school by providing a facility for applied research. Support has come from Ford, Chrysler, United Technologies Automotive, Tenneco, ASC, and Craft Line.
  • Many projects have been completed by UM-Dearborn faculty for local industries, both as research projects and on a consulting basis.
  • Many industrial researchers from local industries serve as adjunct instructors for UM-Dearborn graduate, undergraduate, and continuing education courses.
  • UM-Dearborn location is proximate to many sites, and within a radius of 20 miles there are approximately 100,000 engineers.

The approach to causing change was to identify and support faculty and projects that would catalyze the existing institutional processes. The Center formed an advisory board to review progress and to help determine future direction. Board members represented Ford Motor Company, Rockwell International Corporation, General Motors Corporation, TRW, Inc., United Technologies Automotive, Detroit Edison Company, and Chrysler Corporation.

Faculty Internships in Industry

The Center supports collaborative projects with industry. A competition is held every year for the school's faculty, with projects selected by external (largely industrial) reviewers with relevant expertise. The following criteria are used:

  • industrial relevance, as demonstrated by existing, ongoing activity in a company willing to participate in the project;
  • active collaboration with practitioners, as evidenced by joint investigations, data sharing, joint publications, and presence at each other's sites;
  • long-term technical merit, essential in order to avoid the temptation of doing well-funded but routine tasks;
  • impact on the curriculum, as evidenced by changes in existing courses, new courses for credit, and not-for-credit programs;
  • funding from external sources as clear evidence of a successful convergence of relevance and quality.

Projects can be supported solely by the Center, jointly by the Center and an industrial sponsor, or completely by an external industrial sponsor. Those projects with sole support through Center funds are limited to two funding cycles.

Senior Design Competition

The Center sponsored a school-wide senior design contest in 1997, after several years of discussion and changes in the senior design experience. Competitions held within each department resulted in the selection of three nominees for the school-wide contest. External juries awarded the prizes.

Interdisciplinary Student Projects

For several years the Center has supported student projects that recruit students from various disciplines for team participation in national design competitions such as the Natural Gas Vehicle Challenge, the SAE Formula Car Competition, and the Automated Guided Vehicle Competition. Financial support from the Center has leveraged substantial extended support in many cases.

Continuing Education for Practicing Engineers

A natural corollary to the clinical model is the integration of continuing education within the school. Continuing education activity at the University of Michigan started as a centralized program administered by an associate dean who reported directly to the provost. The School of Engineering participated in this program, providing courses taught by tenure-track and adjunct faculty. In an effort to make the process more productive, there was a reorganization that brought the engineering professional development component into the Center for Engineering Education and Practice in April 1996 as part of the original vision of the Center. Since then, the revenue stream in engineering professional development (EPD) has doubled, with over 1,000 yearly participants.


The Center holds a yearly meeting to review project results, a "Technology Day" during which the faculty and their industrial collaborators present the results of their work. Recently, Technology Day has been structured to include an industrial panel followed by a poster session of projects that have industrial collaborators. The panel discusses issues relevant to increasing cooperation and publishes an abstract of proceedings. The meeting is open to the public. The Center also publishes a newsletter twice a year highlighting achievements.

Impact on Faculty, Students, and Curriculum

The clinical model of engineering education advanced by the Center envisions a collaborative atmosphere among participants, faculty, and students that has impact on research, curriculum, and teaching. Indices that measure these outcomes through the fourth year are:

  • number of funding cycles - 5
  • number of projects - 60
  • collaborating practitioners - 95
  • faculty involved - 22
  • undergraduates involved - 34
  • graduate students involved - 32
  • high school students - 39
  • number of new courses planned - 19
  • number of modifications to courses - 83

Over the years, the Center has been involved in about twelve externally funded projects with industrial collaborators per year. Examples of projects include:

  • "Air and Structure-Borne Noise Reduction for Vehicle Dampers," which involved Monroe Automotive Equipment Corporation, with an impact on the program in that two courses were modified, case studies were created, theses were developed, and a research assistant was employed (1996);
  • "Development of Thermoplastic Composite Stamping Processes for Automotive Applications" with Siemens Automotive and Allied Signal Plastics, with an impact on the program in that a course was modified, demonstrations were offered to students, and a visiting research scientist was available (1995);
  • "Evaluating Sensors for Object Detection" involving Ford Motor Company and U. S. Army TACOM, with the result that modules for two courses were created, undergraduate capstone design projects were carried out, and undergraduate internship opportunities were made available (1994, 1995);
  • "Massively Parallel Processing Technology for Industrial Machine Vision Applications," involving Applied Intelligent Systems, Inc., with an impact on the program in that a graduate course was created and a research assistant was employed (1993);
  • "Exhaust Emissions and Their Control in Lean Burn Natural Gas Engines," with Ford Motor Company and Diesel Controls Limited, with an impact on the program in that a fuel systems course for Ford Motor Company was created (1993).

The Center was started in January 1992. Currently, over $3 million in unrestricted gifts has been obtained, and several times that amount has come from specific project funding from industry and government to support projects seeded by the Center. Some of the changes fostered by the concept of the Center and the growth in interdisciplinary programs led to a reorganization of the school. The critical role of the Center in supporting faculty and building external relations is evidenced within the new structure.

Unrestricted grants provided by many corporations include those from: Applied Intelligent Systems, Aries Technology, Craft Line, Inc., Chrysler Corporation, Detroit Edison, Ford Motor Company, Michigan Bell Telephone (Ameritech Michigan), Rockwell Automotive, Royal Design and Manufacturing, Siemens Automotive, TRW, and United Technologies Automotive.

Other projects have been supported by funding and personnel from: ASC, Inc., Cincinnati Milacron, Hewlett-Packard, The Budd Company, CIMLINC, Ford Motor Company, Michigan Consolidated Gas Company, Diesel Controls Ltd., United Technologies Automotive, Wisdom Systems, and Royal Design and Manufacturing.

Additional accomplishments of the School of Engineering include the completion of a new 53,000-square-foot engineering complex, which houses the Center as well as nine new laboratories for teaching and research. There are another 15,000 square feet of space in an attached continuing education building where noncredit engineering programs are offered. The new laboratories are as follows:

  • Automotive Electronics Laboratory
  • Plastics Processing Laboratory
  • Specialized Design Studios
  • Ergonomics Laboratory
  • Rapid Prototyping Laboratory
  • Networking Laboratory
  • Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
  • Hypermedia Laboratory
  • Ingenuity Laboratory

Office space is available for industrial partners for the duration of the projects. This helps in casual, but effective, interaction with our faculty.

The Center has catalyzed a capital campaign generating over $8 million in private funds for projects and equipment, and over $5 million from the state for building construction.


The impact of a single initiative on a complex organization such as a university or school is difficult to assess with firm causal connections. However, qualitative connections can be identified and overall outcomes assessed through the indices enumerated above.

The Center enhances the appreciation by faculty and the university administration of our connectivity to our local industrial community. A keen awareness of our stakeholders' needs and wishes now permeates the faculty at an individual level, and is the key to many positive outcomes.

While nationwide engineering enrollment has dropped by 20 percent in the 1990s, the School of Engineering at the University of Michigan-Dearborn has grown by 70 percent. In 1990, the school had 950 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students. Today there are 1,300 undergraduate students, 900 graduate students, and over 1,000 students in our noncredit programs. What is most telling is that the entire growth in the school has come from new programs. If the school had only the programs today that it had in 1990, the enrollment would have been 20 percent lower! But since 1990, new graduate programs include:

  • master's degree in Engineering Management (interdisciplinary with the College of Business);
  • master's degree in Computer Science;
  • master's degree in Computer Engineering;
  • master's degree in Automotive Engineering (interdisciplinary, involving all departments in the school);
  • Participation in the Doctor of Engineering degree in manufacturing at Ann Arbor (interdisciplinary, with all departments in the school).

The preponderance of interdisciplinary programs is quite telling, and their nature was strongly influenced by the interaction with our external industrial stakeholders.

The influence on the faculty has also been quite dramatic. Today, over 80 percent of our faculty work on industry-related research, a dramatic difference from a few years ago when only a handful were involved. External funding levels have increased manyfold during this period.

The Center for Engineering Education and Practice has made a dramatic impact on a long-existing School of Engineering. The successful pursuit of the clinical model for engineering education will continue as a strategy for the school.


Changing culture is always difficult. Personal gratitude is owed to all those who spent time talking and listening to the author in 1990-91 as the concept of the Center developed. Dr. John McTague and Hank Lenox of Ford Motor Company were initial supporters, as was Robert Marcell of Chrysler Corporation. The advisory board has been an inspiration. Mr. Jerry Rivard of Global Technology Business Development has been extraordinarily supportive with ideas and encouragement. The administration of the university supported the Center from the beginning. Chancellors Blenda Wilson and James Renick provided financial, intellectual, and political support, as has Provost Robert Simpson. Of course, the most important group to whom I am indebted is the faculty of the school and the numerous industrial collaborators. They have defined the Center and in so doing changed the culture of the school. The Center has been administered effectively by Kathryn Tamborino since its inception.

The IAVS Building

The Henry W. Patton Center for Education Engineering and Practice (HP-CEEP) is housed in the Institute for Advanced Vehicle Systems (IAVS) along with related engineering offices, specialized laboratories, research and teaching facilities, conference rooms and the BorgWarner Auditorium. These facilities, which are a component of the College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS), are designed to advance the concept of an "interactive university". The strong external orientation that CECS has developed ensures that the University of Michigan-Dearborn will continue to have an impact on the regional economy through education of the "work force of tomorrow."

Center for Engineering Education and Practice

Institute for Advanced Vehicle Systems Building (IAVS)
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