WMU News

Fuel cell specialist to address annual engineering event

February 11, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- Fuel cell technology, the power source that may drive the future of the automobile industry, will be the topic Tuesday, Feb. 23, when engineering groups from across West Michigan gather at Western Michigan University to observe Engineers Week.

William L. Mitchell, vice president of engineering at Epyx Corp. of Cambridge, Mass., will describe "The Industrial and Economic Implications of Transitioning to Fuel-Cell Powered Vehicles" when he speaks at the 20th Annual Engineers Week Dinner at Western Michigan University's Bernhard Center. Reservations are required for the event which begins at 5:30 p.m. Mitchell's address is set for 7:30 p.m.

"Nearly every major automotive manufacturer has some effort in fuel cell technology, with many manufacturers pursuing full vehicle demonstrations," Mitchell says. "It is estimated that the automotive industry has invested more than $2 billion in fuel cells."
Mitchell will address the impact that fuel cell-powered vehicles will have on the way consumers drive and on the way the transition to fuel cells would impact the automobile industry and such related industries as petroleum and steel.

Fuel cell vehicles will rely much less on cast iron and carbon steels and much more on copper, composites and stainless steels, he notes. Cars utilizing fuel cell technology currently are being produced, some using a combination of fuel cells and electricity, and others combining fuel cells and gasoline.

Mitchell is currently heading a 30-month, $8.5 million program for the U.S. Department of Energy which is aimed at developing two separate 50 kw integrated fuel cell power systems that operate with gasoline. He has more than eight years of industry experience in advanced power systems, combustion, alternative fuels, fuel cells, catalyst technolgy and environmental engineering.
Mitchell earned bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University and he has been a member of the faculty at that school.

National Engineers Week was begun in 1951 by the National Society for Professional Engineers to increase awareness and appreciation for the engineering profession. The theme for this year's Feb. 21-27 week is "Turning Ideas Into Reality."

This year marks the 20th year Engineers Week has been celebrated in West Michigan. The events are planned by a steering committee comprised of representatives from 16 Southwest Michigan engineering societies. Besides the dinner, other activities planned for the week include tours for high school students of WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The cost of attending the dinner is $20 for professionals or teachers and $10 for students. Spouses, guests and others may attend at the professional rate. Reservations must be made with payment sent to Engineers Week Dinner, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5062.

For more information about Engineering Week activities, persons may contact Fred Sitkins, professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, at (616) 387-6533.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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