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Papalambros Gives DUP Lecture

Panos Papalambros

On February 12th, Panos Papalambros, the James B. Angell Distinguished University Professor of Engineering and Donald C. Graham Professor of Engineering made his inauguration speech as Distinguished University Professor in Rackham Amphitheatre.

Papalambros was promoted to James B. Angell DUP of Engineering in 2013. The University chose a total of five professors, all from different departments, to receive the honor that year. The Distinguished University Professorships are awarded on the basis of exceptional scholarly achievements, reputation, and teaching capabilities.

His DUP Lecture, titled “Design Science: A Weltanschauung,” focuses on the combination of design and science. Papalambros suggests that although combining the two concepts is oftentimes perceived as controversial, design and science compliment each other. Connecting them results in a better understanding the world and how we have shaped it.

In his abstract for the speech, Papalambros begins by distinguishing between science and design.

“Science studies the world as we find it,” he said. “Design Science studies the world as we make it.”

By observing the grouping of the two and how they have interacted historically, especially in research, we may develop a more accurate Weltanschauung, or worldview.

Design Science studies holistically the creation of artifacts and their embedding in our physical, virtual, psychological, economic, and social environment,” he added.

Former President of the University James Duderstadt and Interim Vice President for Research Jack Hu, who also collaborates in research with Papalambros, introduced him onto the stage at the event.

“Panos has brought his creativity and passion to each and every area of his work, and in the process, he has brought great recognition to the University,” Hu said.

In his speech, Papalambros explained the origins of his interest in blending design and science. His career has consistently balanced itself between his research, which is primarily “analytical and mathematical,” and his teaching, which he describes as the opposite.

“I had always been thinking all those years, why can’t we bring the holistic thinking of how we do things with the analytical thinking of how we think about things,” he said.

Papalambros also explained his decision to inherit the name of James B. Angell for his Professorship. He admired Angell, who served as the University’s third president, for his broad range of interests, spanning from civil engineering to modern language and even international law.

In addition to teaching for the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Papalambros is also a professor of architecture and professor of art and design at the University. Additionally, he currently serves as the founding Chair of the Integrative Systems and Design Division in the College of Engineering.

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