Professor Jun Ni, honorary dean of the University of Michigan – Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (JI), was chosen as one of the 20 most influential professors in smart manufacturing, announced the United States -based Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) recently.


According to the featured story published on the SME official website, all the 20 selected professors have earned doctorate degrees. Many of them count among their significant achievements not only their personal work but also the legions of students they have trained to be the next generations of innovators. In the end, all are people who ask not only “Why?” but also “Why not?”

As SME puts on the profile page, Professor Ni is like the mouth of a smart manufacturing river, with close to 100 doctoral and 70 master’s graduates, and hundreds of engineering undergraduates forming the tributaries that fan out to faculty positions at other universities and executive positions at global companies. From 2017-2019, Professor Ni was co-chairman for the Global Future Council on Advanced Manufacturing and Production at the World Economic Forum. After 40 years in academia, Professor Ni wants to help smart manufacturing entrepreneurs, so three years ago he helped launch a startup. His vision for future smart manufacturing systems includes: 4 “R”s (responsiveness, resilience, reconfigurability and reusability) in addition to traditional qualities; self-aware, self-adaptive machines that can evaluate their condition and make necessary compensations; zero defects with predictive automatic root cause identification; near-zero downtime, and every part right, from first to last.

 “I am also very proud of my accomplishment as a founding dean to establish the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute,” Professor Ni was quoted as saying. “Thousands of American and Chinese students have benefited from this global innovation in engineering education.”

Background Information


Jun Ni is currently a professor in the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering as well as the collegiate professor of Shien-Ming (Sam) Wu Manufacturing Research Center at the University of Michigan. He is internationally reputable in the field of advanced manufacturing, serving as the Deputy Director of National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems and Co-director of the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Intelligent Maintenance Systems (IMS). Profesor Ni has led 115 important research projects sponsored by the Big Three auto manufacturers, Boeing, US Air Force, and the National Science Foundation, published more than 400 papers, supervised 83 Ph.D. graduates and 58 master graduates, and won more than 40 academic achievement awards. In January 2014,  Professor Ni received People’s Republic of China International Science and Technology Cooperation Award, Chinese government’s highest award for international experts in science and technology.

At the helm of the Joint Institute from 2006 to 2014, Professor Ni had introduced the education system, management structure, research collaboration, and training model from American universities and had been committed to exploring innovative approaches to higher education reform. As a founding dean, he always insists on cultivating global innovative leaders on China’s soil by combining the best features of Sino-US educational philosophy and systems. Even after serving his 8-year tenure at JI, Professor Ni continues to make efforts for JI’s development through various ways and is currently serving as the Honorary Dean of the Joint Institute.