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Denso Donation
From left, DENSO’s Brian Crawford and Scott Sheets present a check to Matthew Mench, head of UT’s Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering. They are joined by DENSO’s Sara Harris.

Engineering students researching hybrid vehicle technology at UT recently got a $50,000 shot in the arm from the DENSO North America Foundation.

“The support DENSO has given and continues to give our college is a tremendous asset for our students,” said College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis. “They have directly impacted, in a positive way, our ability to educate students in a number of automotive-related areas.”

Part of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, the Advanced Powertrains, Controls, and System Integration—or APCSI—Rolling Laboratory will allow students to develop new technology in those areas much faster than ever before.

The lab is designed so that students can test their ideas in a simulated vehicle environment, a technique known as in-the-loop testing, rather than having to install them in “real” automobiles.

Avoiding the need to constantly change out the parts they are testing will save researchers time and money and can help manufacturers get the latest products to market faster as well.

That opportunity, combined with the company’s past history with UT, made DENSO’s support natural.

“Our longstanding partnership with UT’s engineering program is important to the quality of products we produce around the world,” said DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee Senior Vice President Mike Brackett.

The added bonus of the support is that it will allow UT students to focus more on hybrid vehicles and other green technology, helping them prepare for the rapidly changing automotive world.

For its part, DENSO views the grant not just as an opportunity for advancements in technology but as an investment in what it feels is UT’s greatest resource: students.

According to the company, that has a benefit to everyone involved.

“Supporting these high-caliber educational programs provides us with local student co-ops, senior design collaboration, and full-time engineers,” said Brackett, who is also a board member of the North America DENSO Foundation. “This alliance has ongoing value to us and the entire automotive industry.”

The foundation, an offshoot of the Japanese automotive parts manufacturer of the same name, started in 2001 with the goal of helping support the ideas of students in the fields of engineering and technology. In addition to the current grant, they have also sponsored the EcoCar program, emissions research, and control programs at UT.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683,