Eaton Sponsors Western Michigan University Student Race Car Teams to Help Develop Engineering and Technical Skills


eaton (select to view enlarged photo)

GALESBURG, MI & KALAMAZOO, MI--April 17, 2013: Diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton announced today that it has provided $8,000 to Western Michigan University (WMU) in support of three student engineering teams. The teams will design and develop vehicles to compete against other student teams in the American Solar Challenge, Baja SAE and Formula SAE races this year.

“We are very grateful for the support and commitment of corporations such as Eaton that make it all possible.”

Several engineers from Eaton's Galesburg and Marshall, Michigan, facilities 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 proving grounds in Marshall. WMU's Baja and Formula teams are displaying their vehicles at the SAE World Congress & Exhibition in Detroit, Michigan (April 16-18).

"These programs provide students with excellent hands-on experience in developing, building and racing high-tech vehicles, as well as an opportunity to learn from engineering experts," said Rick Rachner, who leads WMU's Development and Alumni Relations activities for the engineering college. "We are very grateful for the support and commitment of corporations such as Eaton that make it all possible."

Eaton has a long and successful relationship with WMU's engineering and business colleges. This includes sponsoring engineering senior design projects, providing scholarships to marketing students, various internship programs and participating in WMU's Engineering Career Day. Throughout the years many WMU graduates have gone on to work for Eaton.

"It is part of Eaton's culture to give back and support the local communities where we live and work," said 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," added Craig Sell, director of engineering for Eaton's Vehicle Group. "At the same time, it allows Eaton to work with the next generation of engineers."

With the help of Eaton's sponsorship, WMU students are competing in three programs:

  • 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 several post-race best design awards.
  • Formula SAE challenges 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 Michigan portion of the series.
  • SAE Baja competitions test engineering and design capabilities as students build and compete in small, off-road vehicles across North America.

The WMU SAE Student Chapter provides opportunities for students interested in automotive engineering to apply their knowledge and gain practical skills. WMU teams have finished first in the Detroit Section Student Exhibit Competition at the SAE World Congress in three of the last five years, and WMU was named an outstanding collegiate chapter by SAE International.

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