The Michigan Engineer News Center

Climate & Space names three new Associate Chairs

The new positions will assist the Department Chair on strategic initiatives and goals. | Short Read

The Climate and Space department recently added three new Associate Chair roles to help facilitate and implement forward-looking department initiatives and goals. The three Associate Chairs will each be responsible for a principal area of focus, and will work with the various committees that align with these areas.

“We invited faculty to nominate candidates, either others or themselves,” says Department Chair Tuija Pulkkinen, “and I was very pleased at the number of nominations we received.”

The new Associate Chairs are:

  • Associate Chair for Research: Prof. Nilton Renno

Prof. Renno leverages his extensive experience in working with the private sector to help faculty broaden funding support to also include non-governmental sources. Nilton also seeks to enhance the department collaboration with industry, and the development of commercially viable technology, while remaining committed to the U-M College of Engineering vision of service for the public good. For example, the use of environment-sensing components to aid self-driving vehicles to adjust for the conditions of the road ahead. “We use our scientific expertise to help engineer and improve the technology for autonomous systems.”
Originally from Brazil, Prof. Renno’s love for science and engineering has taken him to MIT, CalTech, and finally Climate & Space here at the U-M.

  • Associate Chair for Undergraduate Education: Prof. Aaron Ridley

As undergraduate enrollment remains a priority for the department, Prof. Aaron Ridley is focused on increasing enrollment, along with a positive and rewarding experience for students.

Aaron also sees opportunities for more collaboration with private industry, not only for graduate career options, but to give students more hands-on experience in engineering. “We want our students to actually design and build the next generation of scientific instrumentation. This is where our department lives – at the intersection of science and engineering.” Prof. Ridley was born in Ann Arbor, and destined to become a Wolverine, despite living all over the state of Michigan. His path includes Eastern Michigan University, National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the Southwest Research Institute before coming to CLaSP. 

  • Associate Chair for Graduate Education: Prof. Allison Steiner

Prof. Steiner sees her role as fundamentally rooted in service for graduate students, with goals in a more diverse cohort of applicants, and helping ensure a supportive environment for students to achieve the completion of their degree. “This is critical to student success,” she says. Allison’s purview will also include graduate admissions, programming, and qualifying examinations. “I’m excited to play a part in this role,” she says. “I think it will benefit our department.”
Prof. Steiner did her undergrad at Johns Hopkins University, took break to work for a few years, then on Georgia Tech, and UC Berkeley prior to Climate & Space.

Dr. Pulkkinen said the candidates all demonstrated strengths that would be great assets in the role, and the selection process was not an easy task. The decision was also based on finding the right combination and complement of interests and competencies. “I learned a lot in the process, and am thankful for the thoughtful comments and enthusiasm of the candidates to lead our department to a successful future.”

Portrait of EJ Olsen


EJ Olsen
Marketing Communications Specialist

Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering

(734) 548-3204

2239 SRB

The outside of the Ford Robotics building

U-Michigan, Ford open world-class robotics complex

The facility will accelerate the future of advanced and more equitable robotics and mobility | Medium Read