The Michigan Engineer News Center

The value of people

For U-M, EECS Associate Professor Kevin Fu is the right kind of person. The activity he drives both within and outside the university underscores why it’s vital to attract and retain the best faculty and students.| Short Read
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IMAGE:  Kevin Fu, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and his team of researchers study how sensors deeply embedded inside automobiles and medical devices can be protected from malicious interference. Photo: Joseph Xu

Before Kevin Fu decided to come to Michigan Engineering, the rising star in medical device security already had a distinct impression of how collaboration happens here.

“Michigan has an excellent reputation in engineering, but my earliest interactions were with the U-M Medical School,” the professor of computer science engineering said. “I was pleasantly surprised when they reached out to me. Michigan was really breaking through silos.”

On that first project, Fu worked with Thomas Crawford at the Medical School on a program to sterilize and reuse pacemakers in developing countries. The collaboration demonstrated two strengths of the University of Michigan: the high-level expertise across many disciplines, and those experts’ interest in working together. Instead of starting with a specific approach, Fu says, U-M researchers often start with a problem they are passionate about, and then work together to find a novel solution.

“It’s all about the people,” he said.

For U-M, Fu is the right kind of person. The activity he drives both within and outside the university underscores why it’s vital to attract and retain the best faculty and students. The internationally recognized expert in medical device security examines how devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps could be affected by hackers or malware. As more and more devices become vulnerable, Fu’s expertise is increasingly in demand by the media as well as Congress. He is co-founder of a healthcare cybersecurity startup in Ann Arbor, in addition to directing two entities at Michigan Engineering: The Archimedes Research Center, which provides resources to industry experts for implementing cybersecurity; and the Security and Privacy Research Group at U-M, which involves more than a dozen researchers working broadly on trustworthy computing.

Bringing in the best and brightest is central to the vision of Alec D. Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. Under Gallimore, Michigan Engineering will pursue preeminence by investing in people who will blaze trails and forge new partnerships, giving them the resources and latitude that they need to succeed.

“We focus on collaborative processes because, for the kind of complex and wicked problems we want to address, it depends on a group of socially conscious and intellectually engaged people coming together,” said Gallimore, who is also the Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Professor of Engineering and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of aerospace engineering. “But it must be done in a way that is structured for success.

Michigan Engineering cultivates its strength in collaboration because this is the only way to address the complex problems that face the world: systems-level problems that no single expert can understand completely. Solutions can only be found when people come together.

But it’s not enough to get the right people in the room. Different terminologies, ways of thinking and ways of working must be reconciled. Planning and communication are required to explore the problem, devise approaches, test solutions and prepare those solutions for implementation. Michigan is developing and iterating on frameworks that facilitate talented groups as they take on grand challenges.

One aspect leads to another. If the right people converge at Michigan, then hubs for disruptive technologies will emerge. Michigan Engineering will attract the support needed to provide world-class facilities. We can promote and reward a culture of calculated and groundbreaking risk-taking. We can develop faculty as national leaders and prepare students to do the same in their careers.

You, our alumni, are part of that future. We owe much of our success to our graduates. You leverage the education you received here to develop solutions for the world’s most pressing problems, and you are steadfast supporters.

The University of Michigan has a long tradition of attracting the leaders and best. In the 200 years since its founding, these people made its brightest moments possible, from developing the polio vaccine to sending machines to explore Mars. As science and technology become critical to solving global problems, the role that Michigan Engineering has to play is expanding. Grow with us.

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Brad Whitehouse
Editor for Alumni Communications

Michigan Engineering
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(734) 647-7089

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  • Kevin Fu

    Kevin Fu

    Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Metal rods that are part of the molecular epitaxy beam apparatus at Michigan Engineering. Photo by Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

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