Future Generations

Doug Patton, president of the DENSO North America Foundation, made a pit stop at the Kettering University Motorsports Garage to check out the team’s SAE Formula Race Car. This is just one of 15 schools that our DENSO North America Foundation supports to help rev up students’ interest in engineering and technology.

“We want to improve our products and provide top-quality customer service. I think you do this by investing in people.”

—Doug Patton, president of the DENSO North America Foundation

The effect of tough new nationwide rules for automobile emissions and mileage standards will create a car and light truck fleet in the United States that is nearly 50 percent more fuel efficient by 2025 than it is today, with an average of 54.5 miles per gallon.

As a result, DENSO’s development focus is on innovative technology that improves fuel efficiency and reduces CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

Equally important, the DENSO North America Foundation is helping support colleges and universities train future engineers for this next growth cycle for automobiles.

This year, the foundation approved grants to 14 colleges and universities, including:

  • University of Detroit Mercy – for autonomous vehicle and advanced driver assistance technologies
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville – to help fund the U of T EcoCar project to convert a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu to run off ethanol and electricity.
  • University of Waterloo – to help fund the purchase of rapid prototyping and manufacturing equipment for student projects
  • Western Michigan University – for HVAC optimization for plug-in hybrid vehicles

These grants come on top of additional awards to support technologies such as advanced thermal management, wireless communication and intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and advanced motor sports.

In its twelfth year, the foundation holds the distinction as the first by a Japanese automotive supplier established in North America.

In 2008, the foundation crossed the U.S. border, approving grants to colleges and universities in Canada and Mexico, home to a growing number of major manufacturers, including DENSO Manufacturing Canada and DENSO Manufacturing Mexico.

Doug Patton, president of the foundation, said funding in North America continues to spread out, demonstrating DENSO’s commitment to business growth and expansion. “We want to improve our products and provide top-quality customer service, and DENSO does. I think you do this by investing in people.”

Since 2001, the foundation has awarded $5.5 million to 22 North American colleges and universities.

This investment has brought an awareness of DENSO’s global place in the automotive industry as students are becoming increasingly familiar with DENSO products and technology among the world’s top suppliers.

The foundation has made capital investments in a range of labs and instructional equipment, providing students with real-world scenarios to gain technical knowledge and develop critical-thinking skills needed to fill jobs created by retiring baby boomers.

In 2009, the National Society of Professional Engineers recently released statistics illustrating that companies, due to retiring baby boomers, anticipate they will need to replace more than half of their engineers in the next eight years. This is far more than the 75,000 engineers being trained annually in U.S. engineering schools today.

“With the exit of a work force that has developed over decades, we need to retool our most important resource,” said Dr. David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., and foundation board member.

“When industry invests in education, it is investing in the future.”

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