Darrin to dream: Engineering professor pursues passions


From advising and teaching students, to collaborating with other doctorates, to flying planes, this OU professor is a man of many talents.

Dr. Hanna, of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department, started teaching at 19 years old. He began teaching supplement courses in chemistry and is now teaching undergraduate courses related to computer engineering, computer sciences and bio-engineering.

“I really enjoy my undergraduate courses,” Hanna said. “There’s a lot of energy when interacting with the students that keeps me feeling young.”

Hanna has been familiar with the young OU scene. He was raised in the Rochester area and had been attending OU for his college-level education, starting in 1999 and ending in 2003.

“I have a special connection with Oakland University; It’s a home to me,” Hanna said. “I grew up here and have an active interest in everything that’s going on.”

Hanna’s research includes Artificial Intelligence and creating software for applications and vehicle networks through nano imaging. Part of this research is connected to assisting AHK Technologies of Troy to create a quicker, more efficient software for the company’s scanner that has the ability to scan something down to a size less than a quarter of an atom.

He also is working in collaboration with Dr. Madlambayan and William Beaumont to find better ways to identify and destroy harmful cells that are responsible for diseases such as leukemia and cancer.

“It’s getting really good results,” Hanna said.

Working with PhD students Jason Gorski and Anthony Bogedin, Hanna has assisted in the development of four different apparatuses that have a main goal to assist in destroying harmful cells in a way that is safe for human trial.

“I’m so impressed by the work that they’ve done so far,” Hanna said about his PhD students.

This bio-medical breakthrough shows promise for the future of medical engineering in curing diseases.

“It may be easier than we think [with this process] and I doubt anyone has tried,” he said.

Hanna doesn’t fill all his time with research, though. Hanna flies his Cessna 172 RG plane to meetings. He learned to fly at age 14 through a family friend and eventually earned his pilot’s license.

“I realized I was driving all over the place and that I’m so active that flying a plane would make sense with my experience,” Hanna said. “I love it and I get around quite a bit.”

Hanna said he flies his plane around 200 hours a year, which is “a lot compared to average flyers.”

He also likes to throw his body into the air- with dancing; participating in styles of dance that involve gymnastics, tap, jazz and modern dance. He’s a member of the Alumni Dance Company.

Roller skating for fun after a career of competing nationally is another hobby of his. He also immensely enjoys winding down with a movie at the theatre.

“I’ll literally leave a lab, look up late-night showings, and call my buddies to see a movie,” Hanna said.

Overall, Hanna most importantly feels lucky to have a job he loves doing. When asked about time management, Hanna gave some wise advice that applies to everyday life:

“When you’re doing what you love, it’s easier to manage time because you’ll find the time for it on your own.”