Our Research Mission

The division of Integrative Systems + Design strives to study and promote leadership in the design and creation of innovative products and systems.

Research Stories

Strategic Research Focus Areas

Integrative Systems + Design focuses on five main research areas.

Model-Based Systems Design

Solving complex problems requires deeper levels of systems understanding. Modeling helps designers/engineers work at greater levels of complexity to support system requirements, design, analysis, verification and validation activities beginning in the conceptual design phase and continuing throughout development and later life cycle phases. In this field, we strengthen the ability to create and implement models to support every stage of engineering and design process and drive learning, including tools and methods for modeling, analyzing, and solving complex problems.

Integrative Thinking

Integrative thinking requires seeing problems from multiple viewpoints, taking them all into consideration, and searching for creative solutions through a transformative approach. It requires shifting the focus to the vulnerabilities and capacities of single systems or sectors to interconnected systems and how these will shift over time, taking into account multidirectional interactions of projected changes, responses, and effects. This leads to understanding how to compose a holistic view of a problem, co-construct new knowledge, explore alternative views and methods of problem analysis, and synthesize them into a coherent solution. In this field, we develop methods and processes that integrate multiple disciplines for development of complex technological products, services, and systems for the greater good.


Engineers are needed to design within social, political, economic, and cultural contexts. In this field, we design things that participate in complex systems that have both social and technical aspects, study the intersection of society and technology as a grouping of social engineering and management science, and learn how to develop new technologies to meet challenges in energy, environment, food, housing, water, transportation, safety, and health. We investigate the societal impact of engineering and design decisions at the intersection of society and technology.

Global Engineering Leadership​

Engineering leaders are needed to strategically think and act globally based on an integration of academic excellence in engineering and business, experience in a variety of settings and environments, and the ability to lead across cultures and within organizations of varied sizes. In this field, we strengthen ability to develop engineering and business practices, develop cross-cultural leadership competencies, methods to work within a global community, and lead with purpose, strategy, and vision in the development of sustainable global products, services, and processes for the common good.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship​

Innovation and entrepreneurship drive today’s engineering world. Fueling this growth from global corporations to small businesses and national governments to local governments is a need to build sustainable products, services, and technologies. In this field, we integrate concepts of innovation and entrepreneurship with engineering, science, and design in pursuit of opportunities to innovate solutions to highly complex problems.

Seed Grants Illustration

Growing our Research With Seed Grants

ISD offers occasional opportunities to submit research proposals for Seed Grant funding. This funding is for research projects focused on breakthrough ideas of tackling complex challenges that face our society. In past rounds of Seed Grant funding, proposals have emphasized the integrative systems engineering and design science and its application to emerging areas within fields such as manufacturing, energy, design and automotive systems that transcend the society. These proposals support ISD’s priority for advancing the integrative systems and design principles in research for complex problems.

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ISD Labs and Facilities

ISD Students working in the Smart Additive Manufacturing Educational Laboratory
Michigan Engineering Affiliates Attending a Smart Manufacturing Seminar Series in the Robotics Building

Smart Manufacturing Seminar Series​

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