Published: Wed Aug 3, 2011
Hands-on learning in Tennessee Tech University’s engineering programs got another vote of confidence recently in the form of a $10,000 check from DENSO Manufacturing.
In the past 11 years, the corporation’s North American Foundation and its manufacturing branch in Tennessee have contributed more than $500,000 to TTU. In addition to the TTU Baja Club, the company has supported both laboratory and classroom facility improvements in the College of Engineering at TTU.
“We have a lot of co-op students from Tech come to DENSO,” said Brian Crawford, staffing specialist from DENSO’s Maryville, Tenn., office. “I think the overall engineering program at Tech is very strong and we want to support them any way we can. “
During more than an hour on campus, the DENSO representatives saw some of the fruits of those donations, including a renovated classroom and the Baja SAE team’s latest winning vehicle, its lab and practice track.
The TTU Baja team, which is advised by TTU mechanical engineering professor Dale Wilson, recently completed its most successful season in their storied history, which includes more first place finishes than any program in the country. This hallmark of success is partly attributable to the financial support from companies like DENSO, combined with the technical instruction delivered in the engineering and technology programs at Tennessee Tech.
In a recent competition in Birmingham, Ala., the team took first place overall, as well as placing first in the endurance race, second in water maneuverability and third in acceleration.
“It’s easy to do so well when you’ve got the best car,” said senior mechanical engineering major Jed Peterson, who drove the car in this year’s endurance race.
Nearly everything in the Baja team’s lab is covered in a thin layer of dirt and dust, except for a large collection of photos from recent competitions, which were framed and given to the DENSO representatives as a thank you. The frame will hang in the lobby of the interview room at the company’s Maryville office, next to the Wheaties® box that featured the team.
“DENSO recruits our graduates heavily to their two sites in Tennessee,” said Tracy Russell, Director of Development at TTU. “DENSO has been an excellent partner for engineering education at Tennessee Tech. They appreciate the comprehensive nature of the BAJA program. The team designs a new car each year. The students are responsible to plan all technical and financial aspects from design, fabrication, performance, and marketability of the end product. “