UDM pumps $10M into campus upgrades

Students were welcomed back for the 2016-17 academic year with several new construction projects well underway. 


The university has invested $10 million over the past year on the McNichols campus for projects ranging from a new entrance – completed last year – to major upgrades for both the College of Engineering and Science and the College of Health Professions.


In total, over $15 million has been invested in renovations on all three Detroit Mercy campuses.


One of the most anticipated projects over the last year was the iNSPIRE lab, which transformed an old storage room in the lower level of the Chemistry Building into a new, high-tech space for chemistry, biology, nursing, and health professions students work on, learn, and present new projects and ideas.  It was completed earlier this year.


Shortly after the iNSPIRE lab was on its way, plans for a new Center for Automotive Systems Engineering Education (CASEE) lab were in the works for the 88-year-old Engineering Building.   


“The genesis of both of these new facilities was based on our need to educate students with appropriate equipment,” said Gary Kuleck, dean of the College of Engineering and Science.  “Both labs help provide a new hands-on form of education among several platforms.”


The need for the CASEE lab sparked from the fact that many of Detroit Mercy’s engineering students go on to work in the automotive industry.


The college then sought advice from partnering automakers including Ford Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors Co. to find out what specific skills students need to succeed in the field right out of college. 


“The most the university can do for the students is influence the early career success,” said Nassif Rayess, assistant dean of engineering and science.  “We want them to be very productive very early, and the equipment in the lab is geared toward that.”


A funding campaign was initiated in October 2014 for the iNSPIRE lab, and Mechanical Engineering Professor Mark Schumack received a $50,000 grant from Denso North America Foundation for the CASEE lab.


Then came a $22 million grant from the National Institutes of Health that helped get construction rolling for both new labs as a part of the ReBUILDetroit program. 


Both labs further assist students in understanding what really happens within the science and engineering professions.


“The actual doing of science is how you learn how to become a good science professional or engineer,” added Kuleck.  “Our own faculty helped to design both labs to give students a genuine hands-on experience.”


The iNSPIRE lab has been open for student use for the fall 2016 semester, but it will be officially dedicated Oct. 13, while the CASEE lab has yet to be unveiled.  It is scheduled to open Friday, Sept. 30.


The College of Health Professions building is also being expanded. 


Branching off of Lansing-Reilley Hall, CHP is on its way to a 20,000 square-foot addition, which will mean new exam rooms, classrooms and labs for a more hands on learning experience for students.


With more nursing and health professions students than ever, the addition is a well-needed change to keep the medical professions expanding, university officials said. 


The new addition is scheduled to be open to students for the winter 2017 semester, beginning in January.