UM-Dearborn Engineering Lab Building renamed for former dean


UM-Dearborn will rename its signature Engineering Lab Building for Anthony England, a former College of Engineering and Computer Science dean and NASA astronaut who was on the team that helped three stranded Apollo 13 astronauts return home safely in 1970.

The Board of Regents voted Feb. 15 to name the building the Tony England Engineering Lab Building, in honor of the man who worked on two Apollo missions, flew on the Space Shuttle Challenger and served U-M’s Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses for more than three decades before retiring in 2021.

A photo of Anthony England
Anthony England

England was in the control room when Apollo 13 sent out the distress message, “Houston, we have a problem,” and he helped the three stranded astronauts design and install a makeshift carbon-dioxide scrubber that saved their lives.

“Professor England’s visionary thinking and broad experiences in space and earth sciences and engineering is reflected in the ELB and is a testament to his legacy on our campus,” UM-Dearborn Chancellor Domenico Grasso said in recommending the renaming.

“He has equally left his mark on the creative and innovative modes of education and research inside the building. I am proud to recognize Professor England’s dedication to UM-Dearborn — and to celebrate the many students’ lives he has helped transform — by naming our Engineering Lab Building in his honor.”

England was the CECS dean for eight years, including two as interim dean. He came to Dearborn from the Ann Arbor campus, where he began as a professor of electrical engineering and computer science in 1988. He was associate dean of the Rackham Graduate School from 1995-98 and was associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering for five years.

At UM-Dearborn, England boosted industry partnerships, championed diversity and inclusion efforts, and reoriented CECS to offer a more holistic and multidisciplinary education. He also guided the transformation of the environment where that education took place, spearheading the ELB’s redesign.

Reopened in 2021, the ELB features 45 instructional and research labs in core disciplines like mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as emerging areas like cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, bioengineering and game design. With a 2,400-square-foot atrium that features a 29-foot digital display, as well as multiple flexible gathering spaces, the building has become a hub for students to study and collaborate.

“I am both humbled and proud to have my name on the new ELB,” England said. “This new facility supports UM-Dearborn’s dedication to hands-on, real-world, interdisciplinary learning and reflects the university’s commitment to supporting students from diverse backgrounds, who are able to advance and grow by collaborating with and learning from one another.”

England earned his Ph.D. in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At NASA, he was a mission scientist for Apollo 13 and 16, a mission specialist crewman on Spacelab 2 in 1985, and a space station program scientist from 1986-87. He worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, for which he led scientific expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic, without modern-day GPS systems.

He was awarded the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award in 2002 and the university’s National Center for Institutional Diversity Exemplary Diversity Engagement and Scholarship Award in 2009.

His research has included scattering theory applied to the microwave brightness of Earth and other planets, and the development and use of ice-sounding radar for the study of glaciers in Alaska and Antarctica.

A renaming celebration will take place in the spring. Details will be shared in the coming weeks.


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