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Biomedical engineering professor dedicated to STEM education, showing students how engineering projects help people

February 20, 2014

DETROIT (Feb. 20, 2014) - Michele Grimm, interim director of Wayne State University's Transfer Student Success Center and associate professor of biomedical engineering, just may be one of Michigan's most active and successful science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) supporters and advocates.






Grimm -- who also serves as biomedical engineering undergraduate program chair and faculty advisor of Wayne State's Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, the Biomedical Engineering Society and Formula SAE team -- always knew she wanted to pursue a STEM career.

A Michigan native, Grimm spent a majority of her youth at the Waterford Hills racetrack. Her father, Michael Royce, had previously raced cars as an amateur and, along with Grimm's mother, Suzanne Royce, worked as a scrutineer (or tech inspector) at the local races. They often took their toddler with them to the track.

"The racetrack exposed me to things most kids never encounter," said Grimm, whose mother is now the chief scrutineer for Formula One and MotoGP in the United States. "It showed me that math, science and engineering could be part of fun activities, not just school. I knew from an early age that I'd go into a STEM career, but leaned toward medicine at first. It wasn't until I volunteered at a local hospital in high school that I realized I really wanted to go into biomedical engineering instead. It allowed me to work toward solving medical problems, but without the added stress of having a patient's life depending on my daily decisions."

For years, Grimm dreamed only of a career in research.

"I focused my efforts on securing a research position in orthopaedic biomechanics or rehabilitation engineering after earning my doctorate in bioengineering in 1994 because I wanted to innovate and improve quality of life. Plus, I really didn't think I'd be a good teacher," she says.

Fortunately for countless future students, Grimm's husband was finishing medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and looking for a family medicine residency program at the time. The convergence of professional opportunities resulted in Grimm relocating back to her home state and accepting a joint research/teaching position in the College of Engineering.

Grimm quickly learned that teaching was a passion.

"I found it was much more natural than I previously thought. I love getting students and prospective students to think about how engineering is used to solve real-world problems. I want them to understand that engineering projects can be used to clean the environment, save lives and create better products. We do projects that help people. Helping students understand and develop their own passion for that is very rewarding," she says.

In her 20 years at Wayne State, Grimm's dedication to teaching, STEM promotion and student success has earned her a reputation for developing programs and helming initiatives to meet students' needs.

She's been instrumental in developing both the graduate and undergraduate programs in biomedical engineering (in 1998 and 2010, respectively) and founding the BME department, which involved developing the curriculum and recruiting students to these top programs. As associate dean for academic affairs from 2003 to 2010, she spearheaded the development of the College's Engineering Bridge program for at-risk students, as well the Engineering Honors program to support its top students.  With her racing experience from childhood, Grimm has also ensured that Wayne State is home to a student Formula SAE (FSAE) team.

"I knew what FSAE was and that it would be incredibly beneficial for our students," Grimm says. "It teaches them teamwork and provides them with real-world engineering problem solving, budgeting and time management experience. We're in a very auto-centric region, and companies realize what projects like FSAE bring to students. Our students graduate knowing how to be engineers. Many alums credit it for helping them get their first jobs after graduation."

When she's not working or traveling for work -- she'll head to Toronto and Nebraska this spring  with FSAE -- she can often be found at any number of Wayne State admissions and recruitment events on or off campus, hoping to spread the word on Wayne State's engineering and computer science programs.

"The thing that sets Wayne State apart is that students here know how to do engineering -- every College of Engineering graduate I have ever met. There are so many opportunities for hands-on experiences, internships, co-ops and student competitions. The university grew up in this region, where engineering is an important part of solving the region's and world's problems. Students get to take advantage of that real-world experience."

Grimm is also a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering and serves on its Bioengineering Division Executive Committee, is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, and a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit