Panos Y. Papalambros, PhD PE


James B. Angell Distinguished University Professor
Donald C. Graham Professor of Engineering
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Professor of Architecture; Professor of Art and Design

Director, Optimal Design (ODE) Laboratory
Chair, Division of Integrative Systems + Design (ISD),
College of Engineering

2250 GG Brown Building
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-2125, USA
Tel: (734) 647-8401 FAX: (734) 647-8403
e-mail:pyp at


All artifacts surrounding us are the results of designing. Creating these artifacts involves making a great many decisions, which suggests that designing can be viewed as a decision-making process. An abstract description of the artifact using mathematical expressions of relevant natural laws, experience, and geometry is the mathematical model of the artifact. This model may contain many alternative designs, so criteria for comparing these alternatives can be introduced in the model. Within the limitations of such a model, the best, or optimum, design can be identified with the aid of mathematical methods.

Principles of Optimal Design: Modeling and Computation
 Cambridge University Press, New York, 1988 (1st ed.), 2000 (2d ed.).  A 3d Edition is in preparation.


Design science, decision modeling and optimization
Linking engineering with art, business, and psychology
Optimal design of complex engineered systems
Sustainable systems design

Application domains
Automotive systems, hybrid and electric vehicles
Product design and development 
Structures and mechanical systems


Analytical Product Design (ME455/DESCI501/ARTDES 300) Design of artifacts is addressed from a multidisciplinary perspective that includes engineering, art, psychology, ergonomics, marketing, and economics. Using a decision-making framework, emphasis is placed on understanding basic quantitative methods employed by the different disciplines for making design decisions, building mathematical models, and accounting for interdisciplinary interactions throughout the design development process. Students work in teams to apply the methods on a design project from concept generation to prototyping and design verification. Open to seniors and graduate students. Usually offered in Fall Term.

Design Optimization (ME 555/MFG 555) Mathematical modeling of engineering design problems for optimization. Boundedness and monotonicity analysis of models. Differential optimization theory for unconstrained and constrained problems, and selected numerical algorithms for continuous nonlinear models. Emphasis on the interaction between proper modeling and computation. Students propose design term projects from various disciplines and apply course methodology to optimize designs. Open to graduate students and seniors by permission. Usually offered in Winter Term.

Design and Manufacturing I (ME 250) Basics of mechanical design: visual thinking, engineering drawing, and machine anatomy. Basics of manufacturing: processes, materials, and thermofluid aspects. Use of computers in various phases of design and manufacturing. Exposure to CAD systems and basic machine shop techniques. Design/manufacturing project. Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory. 

Design Process Models (DESCI 502) Interaction and coordination of decisions based on multi-discipline design analyses is studied in the context of a newly developed artifact. Innovation and creativity are addressed as elements of the design process. Enterprise design decisions made on functionality and business criteria are analyzed within organizational, cultural and social models. Students propose and test novel analysis methods and design process models. Open to graduate students and seniors. Usually offered in the Winter Term.

Design Primer (ENGIN 499) A joint offering of the Center for Entrepreneurship, Multidisciplinary Design Program, and the Design Science Program, this course is designed to augment current offerings across departments in the College of Engineering.