DENSO Foundation gives $50,000 to support WMU student engineers

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The DENSO North America Foundation has invested $50,000 to support Western Michigan University engineering student teams involved in solar, Formula SAE and Baja vehicle racing.

Citing WMU's standards of excellence and efforts to build a skilled and well-trained workforce, foundation officials approved the grant that will provide three well-established engineering teams a leg up in their preparations for 2015-16 competitive event preparation.

"It’s important for students to work with technology, to make mistakes and collaborate as a team on solutions. This type of hands-on experience develops students' skills, and we see that demonstrated in our engineering co-ops who have participated in these vehicle teams," says Karen Cooper-Boyer, director of the DENSO North America Foundation Board of Directors and vice president of General Administration at DENSO Manufacturing Michigan, Inc. in Battle Creek, Michigan. "These are the students who will drive innovation and help shape our future."

Projects benefiting from the grant

The three teams in WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the amount each will receive through the grant are:

  •  The Sunseeker solar race team, which develops a solar-powered vehicle for the American Solar Challenge, a biennial cross-country race that is run on highways across the United States, $30,000.
  •  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, $13,000.
  •  The SAE Baja team, which 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, $7,000.

"The students on our competitive teams are in charge of everything from technical development and innovation to fundraising and marketing," says Dr. Claudia Fajardo, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and faculty advisor to WMU's Formula SAE team. "Having this funding early in the competitive cycle, means our students can focus more on technical development and securing components."

Each of the teams, she notes, has a different engineering focus.

"We teamed up this year in preparing a proposal for DENSO," Fajardo says. "Together, we were able to give DENSO a complete picture of what we accomplish in automotive engineering. These teams represent extracurricular activity for our students, but they each add tremendously to the resumes and skill sets of our graduates."

About DENSO and DENSO North America Foundation

DENSO is one of the world's largest suppliers of advanced automotive technology, systems and components in the areas of thermal, powertrain control, electronics and information and safety. Its customers include all the world's major carmakers. Worldwide, the company has more than 200 subsidiaries and affiliates in 38 countries and regions and employs more than 140,000 people. In North America, DENSO employs more than 22,000 people at 30 consolidated companies and affiliates. Of these, 25 are manufacturing facilities located in the United States, Canada and Mexico. To learn more, visit

The DENSO North America Foundation, a registered 501(c)3 corporate foundation, is dedicated to helping students advance their education in engineering, technology and other related programs. Founded in 2001, the Foundation provides grants to colleges and universities throughout North America, helping communities prosper through the development of a skilled and knowledgeable workforce. Proposals for these education grants are considered by invitation only.

 About WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences

WMU’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences offers a wide array of undergraduate and graduate programs, including 15 undergraduate engineering, technology and applied sciences degree programs. At the graduate level, nine different master's level degree programs are available, as well as five doctoral programs. The college enrolls some 2,400 undergraduates and 600 graduate students.

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