Monthly Archives: July 2014

OU SECS teams up with Fulcrum Edge for new project management course

Stephanie Sokol for OUSECS

Professor Bill Edwards and Mark Lundquist of Fulcrum Edge talk about the new project management course. Photo/Stephanie Sokol

Professor Bill Edwards and Mark Lundquist of Fulcrum Edge talk about the new project management course. Photo/Stephanie Sokol

The Oakland University School of Engineering and Computer Science is teaming up with business-management firm Fulcrum Edge for a new project management course. Being offered this fall, the class will provide a focus on communication and collaboration in engineering.

“Because of our location in SE Michigan, a large number of our Masters students— both in our ISE and our Engineering Management programs — work full-time,” said Robert Van Til, Professor and Chair of the ISE Department.

“A lot of what students will learn in this class, they can use immediately in their job, in addition to enhancing their career. This is one of several new application-focused courses the ISE Department is developing in cooperation with a various companies, they really complement our more theoretical courses that are the foundation of an engineering education.”

ISE 595 Special Topics: Engineering Project Management will be taught by ISE Instructor William Edwards, who worked closely with Dean Baker and Mark Lundquist of Fulcrum Edge to design it. The course will apply an “active learning” approach. 

Rather than being lecture and textbook-based, group projects will be the focus, with written material as a supplement.

“Students are much more engaged through this process, and it facilitates learning by actually doing it,” Edwards said.

Lundquist, who is on the OU INC business incubator’s advisory board, is working with Baker to pitch this class to universities nationwide, and has other colleges interested in addition to OU. While classes in this subject are common at other universities, the collaboration between education and a business makes OU’s course unique.

“What I’m hoping students see is the transference of education but in a real-world manner,” Lundquist said. 

“I’ve lectured at different places, not at the university level but guest speaking, and I know that from my own experience at the University of Illinois, we had a higher, more elevated view of the professors we knew had done work in the non-academic world. So I know most students are hungry for both; they also want the theory and practical background, so they can understand what it will be like when they get out in the workforce. To be able to have a program that can  pull all of it together— that’s personally satisfying for me.”

Having worked at Ford and Chrysler, Edwards said communication is an important, sometimes overlooked element of engineering.

Each semester, he takes students on a field trip for real-world experience. This new engineering project management course brings the field trip to the classroom, he said, through the projects as well as Baker and Lundquist’s perspectives.

“I like that (this class) pulls some real-world situations into the classroom,” Edwards said. 

“Textbooks give this nice pat-answer, but you want to get the fundamentals so students can be resourceful and react on their own to have a deliverable result. Different groups will bring different perspectives and solutions for the same problem, and I like seeing that— the creativity that you give students.”

Baker authored the course’s textbook, “Multi-Company Project Management,” which he said is divided into three sections. 

The first section covers project initiation and planning. The second section covers project execution, control and closure. These represent the five phases of a project. The third section is an application case study that was applied in a real environment.

The application-focused book describes the basic principles of project management, while the two workbooks provide active learning exercises that allow students to experience application of the principles. 

The course includes a Lecture Notebook with all class slides to aid students in preparing for class and taking notes. The workbook activities have been proven in the classroom; Baker taught at DeVry University and found that students greatly benefitted from the projects.

“I hope the students are going to come away very excited about the course and what they learned in it— they’ll feel that they actually know how to apply things in the real world,” Baker said. 

“Students will have confidence that they can walk in and start performing on a project. I also  hope this course makes them very successful as they move on in their careers.”

Edwards, Baker and Lundquist agreed that communication is key between companies. 

Their shared goal for this course is to help students be a success by offering them practice and guidance, so they can interact in a variety of company situations. Whether it be within the same company, 

or even on a national level, the new program management course will supply training to help in a variety of situations.

“When I was an undergrad, engineering schools had a very rigorous curriculum,” Edwards said. 

“In the real world, those softer sides really played a much greater role than even the technical role. The softer side of working with people from different areas, cultures; the proprietary info that some

companies don’t want to give up. We are becoming even more multicultural, dealing with Brazilians, Germans, French, Japanese— some societies are not as open as ours, and are very closed to

conversation: ask and only answer the question, not elaborating. But in the end, having a resolution and recovery plan, you can reach a common goal together.”

To learn more about Oakland University’s Industrial and Systems Engineering M.S. or its Engineering Management M.S. programs, as well as other programs offered by the ISE Department, visit


DSO returns to Meadow Brook, with Joshua Bell

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Joshua Bell will perform with the DSO at Meadow Brook Music Festival on Thursday, July 24. Photo/Wikimedia
Joshua Bell will perform with the DSO at Meadow Brook Music Festival on Thursday, July 24. Photo/Wikimedia

After a four year hiatus from performing at Meadow Brook, the DSO returns to the venue this Thursday for a concert with violinist Joshua Bell.

The DSO last performed at Meadow Brook as a full orchestra in 2010. Since then they have presented a couple of other programs like Yo-Yo Ma’s Goat Rodeo, in partnership with the venue, according to Gabrielle Poshlado of the DSO.

“My favorite part of performing at Meadowbrook is that it’s a less formal atmosphere and a great place for families to come to concerts. When they were young, my own children heard a lot of classical music and were introduced to live performances by coming to Meadowbrook. In the outdoor setting, families can be together, and the kids can move around and be a little more fidgety. They can even go to sleep – that’s ok! They’re there and they’re experiencing the orchestra and great music,” Bass player Larry Hutchinson said.

Of course, no outdoor venue can match the great acoustics of our wonderful Orchestra Hall, but Meadow Brook is a natural amphitheater and has great acoustics for an outdoor venue. We love playing there and the orchestra is very excited to be performing there again.”

Michael Stern, who serves as Kansas City Symphony Music Director, will conductor the hour and 27-minute performance. The program includes works by Glinka, Ravel, Stravinsky, Kodaly and Bruch, bringing a variety of classical pieces to the stage.

Known as the “poet of the violin,” Bell, a Bloomington, Indiana native, is one of the world’s most celebrated violinists due to his tone, charisma and virtuosity. He began his musical career at age 4, when he received his first violin. Since then, he has earned awards for his performances, and has more than 40 CDs recorded under Sony Classical.

“We’ve worked with Joshua Bell several times before and the pieces he’s playing are well known to all of us,” Bass player Larry Hutchinson said. “The purpose of the rehearsal, like it is when we work with all great soloists, is to adapt our accompaniment to his interpretation of the music. When all know their jobs, conductor, orchestra and soloist, then it all comes together very quickly. It will be a wonderful performance.”

Tickets to Detroit Symphony Orchestra featuring Joshua Bell go on sale on at 10 a.m. May 10 and are available online at and, by phone at 313.576.5111 or at the Max M. Fisher Box Office at 3711 Woodward Ave. in Detroit or The Palace Ticket Store and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets may be also charged by phone to American Express, Discover, Visa and MasterCard by calling 800.745.3000. Lawn seats are $15 and Pavilion seats begin at $25. A limited number of lawn 4-packs will be available for $44.

Dr. Sangeorzan appointed Interim Chair of Mechanical Engineering

Stephanie Sokol for OUSECS
Dr. Brian Sangeorzan. Photo/ Oakland University

Dr. Brian Sangeorzan. Photo/ Oakland University

Change is happening in the Oakland University School of Engineering. The long-anticipated new building opens early August, a new Associate Dean has been appointed, and now, a new Chair will be brought into the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Dr. Brian Sangeorzan has been appointed Interim Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department, as Dr. Zissimos Mourelatos steps down to dedicate more time to research and teaching.
“Research in my opinion is extremely important, because among others, you advance the state of the art,” Dr. Mourelatos said. “It allows us to continuously enhance the content of the taught material for the benefit of our students and also provides a healthy and exciting competitive environment with faculty members from Universities around the world to come up with the next “new” development in your area of expertise. In addition, it provides a forum to interact with practicing and research engineers, work with students in carrying out projects, and provide visibility to Oakland University.”
Dr. Mourelatos earned his Ph. D. from the University in Michigan in 1985, and after 18 years at the General Motors R&D Center, he came to OU in 2003 where he served as the Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department since 2010. He has decided not to seek reappointment but rather, “stay on as a professor, doing exactly what professors do — putting all my efforts into teaching, research,and service.”
He noted that serving as the ME Department Chair was a great experience, which gave him a lot of perspective on how things work within the university.
As the new Chair, Dr. Sangeorzan comes with considerable experience, having been an OU faculty member since 1984.
“I’ve seen OU grow from a fairly small university, in an almost-rural area, into the current 20,000 student campus and vibrant surrounding community that we have today — quite a remarkable growth in a short period, especially the growth in professional schools and the new medical school,” Sangeorzan said.
Before coming to OU, Dr. Sangeorzan earned his BSME at the University of Detroit, while working as a co-op student at Ford Motor Company (Engine Division), and stayed at U of D as a teaching assistant. For graduate studies, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, focusing on engine research. He has also worked at the US Army TACOM, General Motors Research Labs, FEV Engine Technology, Chrysler and conducted research for other organizations, including the EPA. During his time at OU, Dr. Sangeorzan recalls many enjoyable experiences.
“I have a lot of favorite moments — watching the ‘lights go on’ in a student who’s been struggling with something, sharing the sense of accomplishment in one of my graduate students when they’ve completed their thesis or dissertation, meeting with former students who are now accomplished in their careers, and watching our SAE Formula team grow into a world-class contender,” he said.
Dr. Sangeorzan said that serving as Chair for various committees within SAE, including serving as Chair of the 10,000 member SAE Detroit Section in 2012, was an important part of his experience.While he has big shoes to fill after the excellent work of previous chairs Dr. Mourelatos and Dr. Barber, Dr. Sangeorzan knows he has their support to further make a difference at OU as he takes on this position.
“It will be an exciting time for the school as we move into the new Engineering Center,” Dr. Sangeorzan said. “Our students will benefit from state-of-the-art laboratories and new equipment and machine shop facilities. I think the new space will also invigorate the faculty, and bring recognition from the professional community. For me personally, every new role brings new challenges and opportunities.”


Dr. Zou appointed SECS associate interim dean

Stephanie Sokol for OUSECS

Qian(Beth) Zou has been appointed interim associate dean for the Oakland University School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Photo/Stephanie Sokol Dr. Qian "Beth" Zou will take over as interim associate dean of the Oakland University engineering department July 18.

Photo/Stephanie Sokol
Dr. Qian “Beth” Zou will take over as interim associate dean of the Oakland University engineering department July 18.

“Dr. Zou is an excellent teacher who has an extensive research record and great service to her department, SECS, and Oakland University,” Dean Louay Chamra said. “I strongly believe that she will do a great job in serving and helping SECS faculty and students to reach their full potential and achieve excellence in all areas of teaching, research and service.”
Zou’s background is mainly focused in tribology. She earned her B.S. in Mechanical Design and Manufacturing from Tsinghua University in China, in 1992. Continuing her studies at the college, two years later, she received her M.S. in Mechanology, and in 2001, her doctorate in Mechanical Design and Theory. During her stay in Tsinghua University, Zou worked at the National Tribology Laboratory, doing research in addition to lecturing. In 2002, she started at Oakland University as a visiting professor, soon moving up to assistant and associate professor for the Mechanical Engineering Department.
When Zou begins her dean duties in August, she will also officially become a full professor. She said her experiences provided her with a solid basis for her teaching, which is something she really enjoys.
“I think teaching and research cannot be separated,” Zou said. “Being a professor, one of the good things is that you teach students knowledge, but you also affect them in different aspects. This is the part I enjoy most as a professor.” Bringing the research projects, and also, the current technology in the field will definitely make the student be more interested in the subject. I definitely think my research helped my teaching.”
When Dean Chamra approached Zou about becoming dean, the offer surprised her at first.
Zou spoke with fellow faculty, her husband and Dr. Smith, and soon made her decision. She has since been shadowing Smith to learn the duties she will take on. Smith, like Zou, started as a faculty member, and said he enjoyed switching to associate dean.
“(After working with Dr. Smith) I’m more confident than before that I will be able to do a good job in this position,” Zou said. “Dr. Smith gave me a lot of encouragement, and said I would be a good associate dean.”
With a focus on organization and details, Zou is confident she will succeed in her new position. She has many changes she wants to enact, including improvements to the graduate program and admissions process, but the first step is getting settled in her new office, in the new engineering building.
“I am honored to be given this position and I look forward to working with the faculty and students,” Zou said. “I will do my best to serve them better in the future. If they have any questions, concerns or anything, I will be more than happy to help.”

University bids Dean Smith farewell and good luck

Stephanie Sokol for OUSECS

Associate Dean Lorenzo Smith has accepted a position as Dean at California State University-Sacramento.July 18 will be his last day at Oakland University, and Dr. Qian “Beth” Zou, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been appointed interim associate dean.

“OU has definitely become home to me,” Smith said. “I love this campus and its people.”

Photo courtesy of Oakland University

Photo courtesy of Oakland University

Dr. Smith earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1991 from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. In 1993 he finished his Master’s at Wayne State University, and he completed his Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics in 1999 from Michigan State University.

Following work with Ford and General Motors, Smith started working as a professor at OU in 2000.

Smith’s research focused on sheet metal experimental mechanics. In his endeavors, he worked on laboratory tooling for evaluating forming limits, surface distortion and draw bead behavior for sheet metal.

During his research, Smith produced 57 publications and secured $3.5 million in external funding as sole-PI from multiple sources, including Pacific Northwest National Labs, Ford and Chrysler. He has also graduated seven Ph.D. students, and served as co-chair for the 2005 international NUMISHEET Conference, where he is currently a scientific research committee member.

After finding success as an OU faculty member from 2000 to 2011, Dean Louay Chamra asked him to take on the position of Associate Dean. From 2011 to present, Smith held the role.

“I am forever thankful to Dean Louay Chamra for taking a chance on me,” Smith said. “He trusted me with decision making and with leadership roles for key initiatives and programs. He is responsible for transforming the SECS associate dean position from a mundane job to an exciting career.”

Smith’s responsibilities as dean included management of four Ph.D. programs, undergraduate and graduate catalogs, admission applications, lab space, and program accreditation support.

“Lorenzo worked closely with the faculty to advance SECS academic and research programs,” Dean Chamra said. “He was very committed to working with our graduate and undergraduate students, together with colleagues across Oakland University, to ensure that the school remains on its ford trajectory. Dr. Smith will be greatly missed in the school next year. He has aggressively advocated for increased research support for our students and committed his efforts to attracting top students into engineering, and taking graduate education to a new level of excellence.”

As Co-founder and Director of the Chrysler Learning and Innovation Center For Sheet Metal Forming (CLIC-form), Smith acted as a leader to the students. His efforts helped evolve the way students are trained for the workplace, according Bruce Williams Jr. Head of Quality Resident Engineering at Chrysler, who partnered with Smith.

“I want to take the time to thank Associate Dean Smith on the behalf of the CLIC students, instructors and I for all of his leadership in building a model that has changed the way the sheet metal industry is training students for the workplace.

Lorenzo’s gentle and humble approach resonate in the students and the team involved with CLIC,” Williams said. “I consider Lorenzo not only a partner but a friend.  We will truly miss him.  We can only hope that Lorenzo expands his scope and reach with his new university.  They are very lucky to have such a passionate and caring individual on their team as Lorenzo Smith.”

While working for OU, Smith was also a mentor to students. His service included serving as faculty advisor for the National Society of Black Engineers, in addition to hosting Grad Connection’s first public forum and an engineering student bonfire, to name a few.

“Dr. Lorenzo Smith has been an excellent club adviser,” said Jared Oluouch,  President of the OU chapter of NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers). “He is always there for us for advice and consultations. He has made sure our activities are funded. He is such an inspiring role model.”

Students and faculty alike wish Smith well, but said they will miss him as both a colleague and friend. He served not only as an instructor and Dean, but an inspiration and mentor to many.

“I will always remember the kindness of the OU people, the pride showing in the eyes of our senior design students, the unsolicited thanks from graduate students, the incredible working relationship I had with Dean Louay Chamra, and the amazing professional support from the Dean’s office staff,” Smith said.