The Michigan Engineer News Center

Wood walks to work: The one who stayed

Going broke in Detroit may have been the best thing that ever happened to DeVolson Wood – and Michigan Engineering.| Short Read

Michigan Engineering’s first professor – Alexander Winchell – knew little about engineering. Though his 1854 “Strength of Materials” course established the first metallurgical curriculum among U.S. engineering colleges, the class was primarily an English composition course for engineering students. At the end of the year, Winchell was replaced by William Peck.

In 1957, while Peck was on vacation, a man named DeVolson Wood was traveling by train for a teaching job in Chicago – but he ran out of money in Detroit. So Wood left his bags and walked to Ann Arbor, where he convinced U-M President Henry Philip Tappan to hire him.

Wood would teach almost every engineering course offered in the 1860s – materials resistance, bridge construction, hydraulic motors, water distribution in cities – and when no Army man was available to teach military engineering due to the exigencies of the Civil War, Wood lectured on that subject as well.

When Wood left the University in 1872, enrollment was on the rise. He was replaced by three men – Ezra Greene, James Davis and Charles Denison – all of whom remained at Michigan long enough to usher engineering students into the next century.

Portrait of Brad Whitehouse


Brad Whitehouse
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Michigan Engineering
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The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read