Science-based design is a key element of engineering. Creativity and intuition are equally important elements and must be offered as guided experiences to the students. In my teaching, I integrate these elements in design projects and to date I have supervised over 2,000 individual student and team projects. My graduate students and post-docs always participate in our teaching activities -- whether assisting in the classroom or in one-on-one interactions with individuals and student teams.


ME 250: DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING I - In 1994, during my department chair service and as a member of a faculty team, I inaugurated this new core sophomore course, designed as the first course taken by students interested in mechanical engineering. The course was part of the new curriculum introduced in the department at the time and has become a highly successful course taught by several of my colleagues. More recently the course has a stronger focus on introducing concepts in systems engineering design.

ME 490 AND ME 590: INDEPENDENT STUDY - Students interested in independent study projects can send an email to me or any member of the Optimal Design Laboratory team with information on their background and interests. We will then try to find a good match. This also applies to UROP students from U-M. We frequently host international undergraduate students, often under the IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students in Technical Education) program or through collaborative agreements with overseas schools.

ME 455/DESCI 501: ANALYTICAL PRODUCT DESIGN - The design of artifacts is addressed from a multidisciplinary perspective that includes engineering, art, psychology, 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, and on the interdisciplinary interactions throughout the design development process. Students work independently or in teams to explore, develop or test in case studies models that support quantification of the design process. The course is open to engineering and non-engineering students. (First taught in 2003.)

ME 555: DESIGN OPTIMIZATION - Mathematical modeling of engineering design problems for optimization. Bounded-ness and monotonicity analysis of models. Differential optimization theory 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. The course has served as the foundation for the textbook Principles of Optimal Design. A number of the projects in this class have resulted in scientific publications. More information can be found at (First taught in 1980.)

DESCI 502: DESIGN PROCESS MODELS - 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. The course is open to engineering and non-engineering students. (First taught in 2007.)


ME 350: DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING II - Starting in 1979 and over the years I have also taught extensively this junior machine design course. The course continues to evolve with increased emphasis on manufacturing, on system rather than just component design, and on the use of advanced CAE tools.

ME 450: DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING III - In 1980 I introduced for the first time at Michigan the concept of formal student design team projects. I have continuously taught the senior design project course under this format since then. Starting as a novelty the course has become a standard way of instruction.

ME 599: INTERDISCIPLINARY DESIGN LABORATORY - During the period 1987-1991 I introduced and team taught the graduate course "Design Laboratory." This was an experimental graduate course funded by NSF to study the design process using a multidisciplinary instructional team and multidisciplinary student project teams. Faculty and students participated from the School of Art and Design and the Aerospace, Mechanical, Industrial and Electrical Engineering Departments. One of the outcomes of that experience was a joint degree program between mechanical engineering and industrial design in the School of Art and Design.

ME 699: ADVANCED DESIGN OPTIMIZATION - This advanced course in design optimization has been occasionally offered to doctoral students.

DESCI 790: DESIGN SCIENCE COLLOQUIUM - Various topics in Design Science are presented by invited speakers, faculty and students. The goal is to increase cross-disciplinary understanding and define research topics in design science. In past terms interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students have worked to develop disciplinary analytical models of the design process and link them with each other towards a comprehensive quantitative design framework. (First taught in 2002 as ME699/Psych 808 in the Antilium Project.)


See also the Optimal Design Laboratory People page.

Doctoral Students
Arianne Collopy, PhD Candidate (DESCI)
Melissa Greene PhD Candidate (DESCI)
Yanxin Pan, PhD Candidate (DESCI)

Masters and Undergraduate Students
Alexander Maynard, Applied Physics, University of Michigan
Benjamin Richer, Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan

Visiting Students

Post-doc Research Fellows
Alparslan Emrah Bayrak (PhD ME 2014, U-M)
Alex Burnap, MS, ME; PhD Candidate (DESCI)


My former doctoral and masters students and post-doctoral fellows have pursued a variety of career paths in academia, business, and government. The list provided here includes doctoral dissertations and masters theses I have served as chair or co-chair. See also the Optimal Design Laboratory Publications page.

Doctoral Dissertations

  1. Alejandro R. Díaz, 1982. Optimization of Finite Element Grids Using Interpolation Error (J. E. Taylor co-chair). Currently, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University.

  2. Shapour Azarm, 1984. Local Monotonicity in Optimal Design. Currently, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland.

  3. Heng Long Li, 1985. Design Optimization Strategies with Global and Local Knowledge. Currently, Vice President and CFO (ret.), China Aluminum Corporation, P.R. China.

  4. Rajiv Desai, 1988. Automatic Robot Programming for Accommodating Design Changes (R.A.Volz co-chair). Currently, CEO of 3Di Systems Corp, Brea. CA.

  5. Mark J. Jakiela, 1988. Intelligent Suggestive Computer Aided Design Systems. Currently, Hunter Professor of Engineering, Washington University.

  6. Han Tong Loh, 1989. A Sequential Linearization Approach for Mixed -Discrete Nonlinear Design Optimization. Currently, Provost and Professor, Singapor Institute of Technology.

  7. Jagannatha J. R. Rao, 1989. Higher Level Modeling Formulations in Optimal Design. Currently, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston.

  8. Doek-Soo Kim, 1990. Cones on Bezier Curves and Surfaces (T.C. Woo co-chair). Currently, Professor of Industrial Engineering, Hanyang University, Korea.

  9. Robin Lo, 1991. Deterministic Global Design Optimization for Nonconvex Generalized Polynomial Problems. Formerly, Senior Staff Engineer, Vehicle Systems, General Motors Corp. (D.)

  10. Mehran Chirehdast, 1992. An Integrated Optimization Environment for Structural Configuration Design. Currently, Executive Director, Credit Risk Management, USAA Bank

  11. Gary Snavely, 1992. An Abstraction-Based Methodology for Mechanical Configuration Design. Currently, Manager, Manufacturing Center, General Motors Corp.

  12. Leonard Pomrehn, 1993. A Recursive Opportunistic Optimization Tool for Discrete Optimal Design. Currently, Senior Controls Engineer, Clear Line Controls Inc

  13. Terrance C. Wagner, 1993. A General Decomposition Methodology for Optimal System Design. Currently, Manager, Engine Programs, Ford Motor Co.

  14. Timothy W. Athan, 1994. A Quasi-Monte Carlo Method for Multicriteria Optimization. Currently, Research Engineer, Applied Dynamics Inc.

  15. Roy P. Johanson, 1996. Topology Optimization of Multicomponent Structural Systems (N. Kikuchi, co-chair). Currently, Principal, Forsetti Partners, Chicago.

  16. Tao Jiang, 1996. Topology Optimization of Structural Systems Using Convex Approximation Methods. Currently, Supervisor, Vehicle Systems, Ford Motor Co.

  17. Ramprasad Krishnamachari, 1996. A Decomposition Synthesis Methodology for Optimal Systems Design. Currently, Supervisor, System Requirements, General Dynamics Land Systems, Detroit.

  18. Sigurd Nelson, III, 1997. Optimal Design of Hierarchical Systems using Sequential Decomposition Programming. Currently, Production Manager, Digital Innovations.

  19. Shinji Nishiwaki, 1998. Optimum Structural Topology Design Considering Flexibility (with N. Kikuchi). Currently, Professor, Kyoto University, Japan.

  20. Julie Reyer, 2000. Combined Embodiment Design and Control Optimization: Effects of Cross-Disciplinary Coupling. Currently, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean, Bradley University.

  21. Hyung Min Kim, 2001. Target Cascading in Optimal System Design. Currently, Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

  22. Zhifang Li, 2001. Design Optimization Techniques for Printed Antennas and Periodic Structures, (J. Volakis, co-chair). Currently, Quantitative Risk Analyst, Securian Financial Group, Minneapolis.

  23. George Delagrammatikas, 2001. A Design Optimization Methodology for Advanced and Hybrid, Diesel-Based, Automotive Powertrains (D. Assanis, co-chair). Currently, Associate Professor, Cooper Union, New York.

  24. Michael J. Sasena, 2002. Flexibility and Efficiency Enhancements for Constrained Global Design Optimization with Kriging Approximations (P. Goovaerts co-chair). Currently, Staff Scientist, Siemens, Troy, Michigan.

  25. Ryan Fellini, 2002. A Model-Based Methodology for Product Family Design.Currently, Research Staff, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore.

  26. Hosam Fathy, 2003. Combined Plant and Control Optimization: Theory, Strategies, and Applications (A.G. Ulsoy co-chair). Currently, Asociatet Professor, Penn State University.

  27. Panayiotis Georgiopoulos, 2003. Enterprise-wide Product Design: Linking Optimal Design Decisions with the Theory of the Firm. D.Eng. Program in Manufacturing. Currently, Senior Executive, Vodafone, Athens, Greece.

  28. Ruchi Choudhary, 2003.   A Hierarchical Optimization Framework for Simulation-Based Architectural Design. Ph.D.-Architecture (A. Malkawi, co-chair). Currently, Lecturer, Cambridge University, UK.

  29. Primikiri, Elena, 2004. Thermal Building Performance Optimization Using Spatial Archetypes. Ph.D.-Architecture (J. Turner, co-chair). Currently, Investment Analyst, Bank of Piraeus, Greece.

  30. Matthew Parkinson, 2004. Balance Maintenance in Normal Seated Reach, Biomedical Engin. (D. Chaffin co-chair). Currently, Associate Professor, Penn State University.

  31. Jeremy Michalek, 2004. Preference Coordination in Engineering Design Decision-Making. Currently, Professor, Carnegie Mellon University.

  32. Hyoung-June Park, 2004. A Quantification of Proportionality Aesthetics in Morphological Design. Architecture (A. Economou co-chair). Currently, Associate Professor, Univ. of Hawaii.

  33. Kuei-Yuan (Miles) Chan, 2005. Monotonicity, Activity and Sequential Linearizations in p\Probabilistic Design Optimization (S. Skerlos co-chair). Currently, Associate Professor, National Taiwan University, Taiwan.

  34. Zhijun Li, 2005. Optimal Design of Multistation Assembly Systems (M. Kokkolaras co-chair).  Currently, Product Designer, Foxconn Industries, San Francisco.

  35. Sulaiman Alyaqout, 2006. A Multi-System Optimization Approach to Coupling in Robust Design and Control. (A. G. Ulsoy co-chair). Currently, Associate Professor, University of Kuweit.

  36. Malikopoulos, A., 2008. Real-Time, Self-Learning Identification and Stochastic Optimal Control of Advanced Powertrain Systems (D. N. Assanis co-chair). Currently, Research Staff, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

  37. MacDonald, E. F., 2008. The Construction of Preference in Engineering Design and Implications for Green Products (R. Gonzalez, co-chair). Currently, Assistant Professor, Stanford University.

  38. Kelly, J. C., 2008. Interactive Genetic Algorithms for Shape Preference Assessment in Engineering Design. Currently,  Energy Systems Analyst, Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago

  39. Han, J. W., 2008. Sequential Linear Programming Coordination Strategy for Deterministic and Probabilistic Analytical Target Cascading. Currently, Energy Systems Senior Analyst, Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago.

  40. Allison, J. T., 2008. Optimal Partitioning and Coordination Decisions in Decomposition-based Design Optimization. Currently, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne.

  41. Frischknecht, Bart, 2009. A Study of Public and Private Tradeoffs in Optimal Vehicle Design Using a Market Systems Approach. Currently, Assistant Professor, Technical University of Sidney.

  42. Reid, T., 2009. Quantifying Perception-Based Attributes in Design: A Case Study on the Perceived Environmental Friendliness of Vehicle Silhouettes (R. Gonzalez co-chair). Currently, Assistant Professor, Purdue University.

  43. Peters, D. L., 2009. Coupling and Controllability in Optimal Design and Control (A.G. Ulsoy co-chair). Currently, Assistant Professor, Kettering University.

  44. Earmme, T., 2009. Evolutionary Structural Optimization with Multiple Performance Constraints by Large admissible Perturbations ( M. Bernitsas Co-chair).

  45. Alexander, M., 2011. Management of Functional Data Variables in Decomposition-based Design Optimization. Currently, Asistant Professor, University of Cincinnati.

  46. Hoffenson, S., 2011. Safety Considerations in Optimal Automotive Vehicle Design. Currently, Assistant Professor, Stevens Institute of Technology.

  47. Ren, Y., 2011. Design Preference Elicitation, Identification and Estimation. Currently, Assistant Professor, Arizone State university.

  48. Whitefoot, J., 2011. Optimal Co-Design of Microgrids and Plug-In Vehicles: Synergies, Simplifications and the Effects of Uncertainty. Currently, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburg.

  49. Montazeri, S., 2013. Design for Behavior Change: The Role of Product Visual Aesthetics in Promoting Sustainable Behavior (with Richard Gonzalez) Currently, Research Associate, Fors/Marsh Group, Wash. DC.

  50. McGowan, A., 2014. Interdisciplinary Interactions During R&D and Early Design of Large Engineered Systems (W. Baker, co-chair). Currently, Senior Engineer, NASA Langley.

  51. Lee, K., J., 2014. Optimal System Design with Geometric Considerations. Currently, Research Engineer, Samsung Corporation.

  52. Kang, N., 2014. Multidomain Demand Modeling in Design for Market Systems (F. Feinberg co-chair). Currently, Assistant Professor, K-SChool, KAIST.

  53. Bayrak, A. Emrah, 2015. Topology Considerations in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Powertrain Architecture Design. Currently, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan.

  54. Burnap, Alex, 2016. Crowdsourcing for Engineering Design: Objective Evaluations and Subjective Preferences. Currently, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan.

Master Of Science Theses

Roy P. Johanson, 1989. A Knowledge-Based Convex Approximation Algorithm. Also, doctoral graduate.

Ann Marsan, 1994. Construction of a Surface Model From 3D Homogenization Output (D. Dutta, co-chair). Currently at Ford Motor Co.

Christopher Scheffer, 1997. An Object-Oriented Framework for Optimal Systems Design. Currently at Structural Dynamics Research Corporation (SDRC).

Nnaemeka Nwosu, 1998. Object-Oriented Optimization Using Convex Approximations. Currently at Sybase, Inc.

Ryan Fellini, 1998. Derivative-Free and Global Search Optimization Algorithms in an Object-Oriented Design Framework. Also, doctoral graduate.

Michael Sasena, 1998. Optimization of Computer Simulations via Smoothing Splines and Kriging Metamodels. Also, doctoral graduate.

Jeremy Michalek, 2001. Interactive Layout Design Optimization. Also doctoral graduate.

Whitehead, J. W., 2001. Design and Performance of Derivative-Free Optimization Algorithms Used with Hybrid Electric Vehicle Simulations. Currently at AGC America Inc.

Adam Cooper, 2003. An Enterprise Decision Model for Optimal Vehicle Design Valuation. Currently at Ann Taylor, Inc.

Zhijun Li, 2003. The Effects of Manufacturing Process on Powertrain Design Decisions, M.S. Thesis, Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan. Completed her Ph.D. (1/2006)

Lara Sherefkin, 2003. Analytical Craftsmanship: Evaluation and analysis of consumer Perceptions. M.S. thesis, Mechanical Engineering. Currently at Cumings Engines, Co.

Ilkin Hossoy, 2003. Modeling of Craftsmanship Perceptions in Vehicle Interior Design Using Tools from Engineering and Psychology, M.S. thesis, Mechanical Engineering. Currently, research investigator, UM.

Eric Rask, 2004. Estimating and Using the Attainable Set of Attribute Values for Discrete Choice Consumer Preference Modeling. Currently at GM Hybrid Powertrain Systems.

James Allison, 2004. Complex System Optimization: A Review of Analytical Target Cascading, Collaborative Optimization, and Other Formulations. Currently, Ph.D. pre-candidate, UM.

Han, J., 2005. Optimal design of hybrid and non-hybrid fuel cell vehicles. M.S. Thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

Frischknecht, B., 2006. Representations and Methods for Enabling Design Variety. M.S. Thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

Sarin, H. , 2007. Error Assessment of Response Time Histories. (M. Kokkolaras, co-chair) M.S. Thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Alexander, M. J., 2008. Analytical Target Cascading Optimization of an Electric Vehicle Powertrain System. M.S. Thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

Ren, Yi, 2009. An interactive Modeling Environment for Automotive Exterior Design. M.S. Thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Zissimos Mourelatos (Ph.D.: Naval Architecture, UM), 1986.

Nikiforos Papadakis (Ph.D.: Naval Architecture, UM), 1988-89.

Michael Bremicker (Ph.D.: University of Siegen, Germany), 1988-89.

Nestor Michelena (Ph.D.: UC-Berkeley), 1993-95.

Christian Zillober (Ph.D.: University of Bayreuth), 2000.

Oleana Sinkevich (Ph.D.: Rice University 1999), 2000-02

Michael Kokkolaras (Ph.D.: Rice University 1998), 2000-02

Tobias Larsson (Ph.D.: Luleå University of Technology, 2001), 2001.

Pascal Etman (Ph.D.: Technical University of Eindhoven, 1998), 2001.

Hyung-Min Kim (Ph.D.: Mechanical Engineering, UM 2001), 2003-04

Ryan Fellini (Ph.D.: Mechanical Engineering, UM 2003), 2003-2004

Matthew Parkinson (Ph.D.: Biomedical Engin. UM‘04), 2004-05.

Subroto Gunawan (Ph.D.: Univ. of Maryland 2004), 2004-06.

Jeremy Michalek (Ph.D.: Mechanical Engineering, UM ‘04), 2005.

Kuei-Yuan (Miles) Chan (Ph.D.: Mechanical Engineering, UM ‘05), 2006.

James Allison (PhD 2007, U-M), 2008

Jeongwoo Han (PhD 2007, U-M), 2008

Bart Frischknecht (Ph.D. 2009, U-M), 2009

Shanna Daly (PhD 2008, Purdue), 2008-09.

Diane Peters (Ph.D. 2009, U-M), 2010-11.

Tahira Reid (Ph.D. 2009, U-M), 2010.

Abigail Mechtenberg (Ph.D. 2009 UM), 2010-11

Michael Alexander (PhD ME 2009, U-M), 2011.

Steven Hoffenson (PhD ME 2011, U-M), 2012

Dongsuk Kum (Ph.D. 2010 UM), 2011-12.

Kukhyun Ahn (PhD 2007, Seoul National University), 2007-12

Yi Ren (PhD ME 2011, U-M), 2012-15

Namwoo Kang (PhD 2014 ME, U-M), 2014-16

Alparslan Emrah Bayrak (PhD 2014 ME, U-M), 2015-

Alex Burnap (PhD 2016 DESCI, U-M), 2016-