Trine receives grant for engineering design teams, touchscreen lab

August 26, 2016

Trine University has received a $25,000 grant from the DENSO North America Foundation (DNAF) to support three senior design teams in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and to develop a touchscreen programming lab in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

The grant was part of $1 million in grants announced in June to 24 colleges and universities across North America. The funds will be used to support advancing education in skilled trades, active safety and robotics programs, student vehicle teams, learning labs and more.

At Trine, a portion of the grant will be used to support the Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) and Shell Eco-marathon (SEM) teams. The BUV team participates in an annual competition hosted by the Institute for Affordable Transportation to design a simple, low-cost utility vehicle that can benefit low-income people in rural areas of developing countries. The Eco-marathon is also an annual competition that challenges students to design, build and drive the most energy-efficient car.

Funds also will be used for a third senior design team to build a laboratory scale chassis dynamometer and to purchase a trailer so that student design teams and clubs can more easily travel to competitions. The chassis dynamometer will be used by future SEM teams to measure the speed and torque of the SEM car, in order to optimize their track performance.

Lab work in touchscreen programming will provide Trine students opportunities to develop visual indicators for automotive systems through Human Machine Interface (HMI), which may include many innovative devices that allow one to interact with a machine. 

“We are grateful to for the support of the DENSO foundation,” said James Canino, Ph.D., associate professor in the Wade Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “Receiving this grant will allow our students to experience a real-world, hands-on design project that will allow them to develop skills they will need when they are in the work force.”

“The best learning experiences are when things don’t work how you expected, or how the textbook explained,” said Doug Patton, president of the DENSO North America Foundation and executive vice president of engineering at DENSO International America Inc. “That’s why we want students to get their hands on technology. They need to get their hands dirty and figure out how things work, how to fix, test and develop technology, how to innovate and think creatively.”

DNAF is the philanthropic arm of global auto parts supplier DENSO’s North American headquarters, DENSO International America Inc. Since 2001, the DNAF has been dedicated to advancing the auto industry through grants to colleges and universities. The foundation provides students with technology, tools and experiences similar to that of the professional workplace they’ll experience after graduation.

“The foundation not only focuses on engineering programs, but also skilled trades and robots, as these are becoming increasingly important in the automotive and technology industries,” said Mike Brackett, member of the DNAF board of directors and senior vice president and DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee. “Many students have an incorrect image of what manufacturing is today. It’s very high-tech, interesting and exciting! Through hands-on programs, students can find out if they excel in these much-needed areas. These may be the same people who loved to tinker with cars, or take things apart and put them back together; however, until they obtain hands-on experience with robotics or skilled trades, they probably don’t know how they can translate these passions into a career.”

In addition to the foundation’s efforts, DENSO also supports students one-on-one through mentorship, connecting students with DENSO experts to give them a better idea of what being an engineer or technical professional means. DENSO supports programs around the country and world such as FIRST Robotics, Project Lead the Way and Society of Automotive Engineering Collegiate Design Series. DENSO also has an extensive co-op student program where students are given a high level of responsibility and gain real-world experience.

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