College awarded $40,000 grant from DENSO for STEM education

Vehicles from left to right; Baja SAE, Sunseeker Solar Car, and Formula SAE

Western Michigan University’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences has received a $40,000 grant from DENSO for programs focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Grants were awarded to programs focused on design, materials management, mechanical and electrical engineering principles, thermodynamics, robotics and more. This grant will be used in support of the college’s three student vehicle design teams. Every year these teams design, manage, and participate in events that draw competitors from all over the world.

“This grant provides a foundation for the teams to design and develop our next generation of vehicles, continually advancing on past performances and incorporating new materials, components, and innovations for racing in 2020 and beyond,” says Dr. Bradley Bazuin, chair of the electrical and computer engineering department and faculty advisor for the Sunseeker Solar Car racing team. “We’re grateful for the opportunities this grant will offer to the students.”

The three teams that will benefit from the grant are:

  • The Sunseeker Solar Car racing team, which develops a solar-powered vehicle for the Formula Sun Grand Prix and the American Solar Challenge. The team recently finished fifth at the Formula Sun Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
  • The Formula SAE team, which responds to a challenge from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) asking colleges and universities around the world to design and build small-scale, Formula One-style cars.
  • The Baja SAE team, which takes part in competitions sponsored by SAE that test engineering and design capabilities as students build and compete in small, off-road vehicles across North America.

“Being involved in these competitions exposes students to real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges,” said Dr. Andy Kline, associate dean for research and graduate education, who serves as advisor to the Baja team. “Team members have to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain.” 

The grant, which is made possible by the company’s philanthropic arm, DENSO North America Foundation (DNAF), is one of 26 grants awarded by DENSO in 2019 to colleges and universities throughout North America. The donations are part of DENSO’s broader efforts to cultivate tomorrow’s workforce and prepare young thinkers to lead a new era of innovation. DENSO is the world’s second largest mobility supplier.

DNAF has supported STEM education through grants at colleges and universities since 2001, enabling students to access tools, technology and experiences that better prepare them for technical careers after graduation. DENSO education grant proposals are invite-only and evaluated based on technical merit, student experience, and alignment with industry needs.

“Investing in tomorrow’s workforce is critical to ensuring we have individuals who are equipped to help DENSO fulfill its vision of creating software and products that enhance safety and reduce environmental impact,” said Bill Foy, senior vice president of Engineering at DENSO and a DENSO North American Foundation board member. “Through these grants, we hope to create a generation of innovators who inspire new value for the future of mobility.”