Eaton sponsoring, mentoring WMU engineering students

Contact: Cheryl Roland
Photo of WMU's Sunseeker solar race car.

WMU's 2012 Sunseeker solar race car

KALAMAZOO—Eaton announced April 17 that it has provided $8,000 to Western Michigan University in support of three student engineering teams that will design and develop vehicles to compete against other collegiate teams this year in solar, baja and formula-style races.

Several engineers from Eaton's Galesburg and Marshall, Mich., facilities also are serving as mentors, providing technical and engineering support to the WMU teams from its College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Students also will have access to Eaton's Marshall Proving Grounds.

Photo of WMU's SAE formula race car.

WMU's SAE formula race car

Three WMU race teams are beneficiaries of the Eaton funding and mentoring.

  • The Sunseeker solar race team is developing a solar-powered vehicle for the American Solar Challenge, which is run on highways across the U.S. As one of only a handful of engineering schools in North America to have participated in every race since the biennial challenge was started in 1989, WMU has finished in the top 10 four times and has captured best design awards.
  • 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. WMU has fielded a team for the past seven years in the Formula SAE series. 
  • The SAE Baja team 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.

WMU’s Formula and Baja teams are displaying their vehicles this week at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exhibition in Detroit. The competitive events for those cars will be later this year. The University's solar racing team will race next in June in the 2013 Formula Sun Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

"It is part of Eaton's culture to give back and support the local communities in which we live and work," says Michael O’Neill, who is the company’s hybrid supply chain manager and coordinates Eaton’s involvement in the WMU programs.

"These projects are a great way for young engineering students to apply their newly acquired skills and solve real problems," adds Craig Sell, director of engineering for Eaton’s Vehicle Group. "At the same time, it allows Eaton to interact with and help shape the minds of the next generation of engineers."

Eaton has had a long and successful relationship with WMU's engineering college and its Haworth College of Business. In 2006, Eaton became a charter member of a University-industry consortium aimed at automotive research. The Center for Advanced Vehicle Design and Simulation provides breakthrough applied computer simulation technology and knowledge to the vehicle industry in the area of vehicle design and analysis. Four years later, in 2010, Eaton Corp. entered into a five-year agreement with WMU to invest in and jointly staff a 1,000-square-foot testing lab to focus on hybrid drive systems for commercial and military vehicles. That lab is called the Center for Hybrid Electric Applied Research. Eaton also is involved as a research partner in the University's Manufacturing Research Center and Green Manufacturing Initiative.

Other elements of the Eaton-WMU relationship include Eaton sponsoring engineering senior design projects, providing scholarships to engineering and business students and participating in internship programs and other programs. Over the years, many WMU graduates have gone on to work for Eaton. 

About Eaton

Eaton is a diversified power management company providing energy-efficient solutions that help its customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power. A global technology leader, Eaton acquired Cooper Industries plc in November 2012. The 2012 revenue of the combined companies was $21.8 billion on a pro forma basis. Eaton has approximately 103,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 175 countries.

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