Kettering University Creates Two New Departments, Names Interim Department Leaders

Chemical engineering students have opportunities to use industry standard equipment.

Kettering University has announced the two new academic departments — the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Natural Sciences — that are part of the institution’s Bright Future initiative introduced earlier this year. 

The Bright Future initiative is a reinvention of academic programs to focus on the University’s core strengths and areas in which it has a strong history and national reputation such as engineering, automotive innovation and mobility. The program changes will revitalize the curricula and infuse innovation, creativity and a cross-disciplinary focus into the educational experience of all Kettering students. 

The Department of Chemical Engineering will be part of the College of Engineering. The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering program has been one of the fastest-growing degree programs at the University since its initial offering in 2008. This new department will be led by co-interim department heads Dr. Mary Gilliam and Dr. Jonathan Wenzel.

“It is very exciting to have Chemical Engineering join the College of Engineering as a standalone department,” said Dr. Craig Hoff, Dean of the College of Engineering. “There is tremendous potential to grow the program further and take it to the next level.”

Gilliam is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Kettering. She has been at the University since 2011, and co-developed the new curriculum as one of the first faculty members in the chemical engineering program. She grew an active research program in advanced materials for mobility applications, thin films and coatings, lightweight plastics, battery materials, modeling chemical emissions from plastics, coatings for biomedical devices, bio-based composites and more. 

Wenzel is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. Before coming to Kettering in 2010, he worked as a research engineer on military projects for four years at the Missouri University of Technology. He has established a research and consulting program in supercritical fluid technology at Kettering. 

The Department of Natural Sciences will encompass the former departments of chemistry/biochemistry and physics. It also will house all of the programs previously housed in those former departments. Dr. Daniel Ludwigsen will serve as the Interim Department Head.

Ludwigsen has been with the University for 20 years. He has served as the physics department head since 2016, and teaches physics and acoustics. His research interests include musical acoustics, noise and vibration, psychoacoustics and the perception of sound. Ludwigsen’s work resulted in a new curriculum in introductory physics labs, a sophomore-level course in computational physics, an engineering-oriented approach to an online acoustics elective and a project-based approach to an upper-level lab course in acoustics.

“The creation of the Department of Natural Sciences facilitates interdisciplinary curriculum design in the natural sciences embracing ‘Impact with Inquiry,’ the motto of the College of Sciences and Liberal Arts while also supporting Kettering’s Bright Future,” said Dr. Kathryn Svinarich, Dean of the College of Sciences and Liberal Arts.

The interim department heads will remain in place while the University conducts national searches to fill the roles.