In 1987, Professor Shien-Ming “Sam” Wu accepted an invitation from Dr. James Duderstadt, then-Dean of Engineering at Michigan to rebuild its manufacturing research programs and came as the first holder of a newly endowed R. and P. Anderson Professor of Manufacturing Technology. Although Professor Wu was already 63 years old, he saw the invitation as an invaluable opportunity to demonstrate, in America’s manufacturing heartland, the benefits of his methods of manufacturing science and engineering.
Since the early 1960s, Professor Wu had worked diligently to raise the level of manufacturing science. He was the first to apply advanced statistical techniques and analysis to manufacturing research and practice, and a pioneer in the use of computer technology to do precision machining without precision machinery through the use of error compensation. Additionally, Professor Wu actively sought out industry and insisted upon industrial relevance, as well as academic excellence, in any research undertaken by his group of researchers and students.
Due to Professor Wu’s hard work and innovative approaches, the center had become a respected manufacturing engineering research group by the time of Professor Wu’s unexpected death in October 1992. His insistence on understanding real-world industrial concerns, using realistic assumptions, and developing generic and industrially relevant theories and methodologies reestablished the University of Michigan’s credibility with Michigan’s industries and beyond. His emphasis on academic excellence, by learning from the best, encouraging innovative ideas, and setting high levels of standards, earned the group its outstanding reputation as a preeminent center for educating manufacturing engineering researchers. In his honor, the center was named the S. M. Wu Manufacturing Research Center in late 1992.