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DENSO Foundation Announces 2014 Grants To Drive Innovation In Auto Industry

Foundation gives grants to 19 colleges and universities to advance engineering education.


SOUTHFIELD, Mich. ― How can we prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s automotive engineers? Let them get their hands on advanced technology, 3D printers, dynamometers, simulators – all the tools that make the auto industry fun.
“The DENSO Foundation is all about engaging and inspiring students to pursue technology and engineering fields,” said Doug Patton, president of the DENSO North America Foundation. “Our mission is to bridge that gap between what students learn in school and the ‘real’ world.”
Since its inception in 2001, the DENSO North America Foundation (DNAF), philanthropic arm of global auto parts supplier DENSO’s North American headquarters, DENSO International America Inc. (DIAM), 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.
“Without getting your hands dirty and getting involved, you won’t know how things work,” said David E. Cole, member of the DNAF Board of Directors and chairman emeritus and founder of the Center for Automotive Research. “And, that’s exactly what the DENSO Foundation is trying to change. We’re helping spark an interest and preparing students for a fast-paced, evolving industry where there’s a serious need for engineers and manufacturing professionals. The shortage of skilled professionals in the industry is an international challenge that the DENSO Foundation is committed to tackling.”
Dallas Smolarek, application engineer at DIAM, is proof that a hands-on experience is the hook that drives and develops students to work in the auto industry. Working in the DENSO Design Center at Michigan Technological University, a DNAF-funded lab, allowed Smolarek to learn what books couldn’t teach her.
“Working in the design center, I was able to follow a project from beginning to end and see the progression of a product – from design and development to prototyping and testing,” said Smolarek. “I learned how to take a comprehensive approach to projects and consider the overall impact. Just because it looks good on paper, doesn’t mean it will work.”
Her experience prepared her for her current role at DENSO, having to take a systems approach to powertrain product development and working in a variety of different areas.     
The DNAF wants to see more students like Smolarek, excited about helping the auto industry advance and leading innovation. In 2014, the DNAF awarded more than $753,000 to 19 colleges and universities in North America.
Funds will support a range of projects – from advancing education in driver assistance, advanced safety and robotics programs to supporting competitive student vehicle teams and building new learning centers.
Congratulations to 2014 DNAF Grant Recipients  
Arkansas State University
Auburn University
California State University – Long Beach
East Tennessee State University
Kellogg Community College
Kettering University
Lawrence Technological University
Michigan Technological University
North Carolina State
North Carolina A&T State University
Oakland University
Ohio State University
Pellissippi State Technical College
Tennessee Tech University
University of Detroit Mercy
University of Michigan – Dearborn
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
University of Waterloo
About the DENSO North America Foundation
A registered 501(c)3 corporate foundation, The DENSO North America 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 our communities prosper through the development of a skilled and knowledgeable workforce. The Foundation also provides disaster relief grants through the American Red Cross to aid persons and communities in which DENSO Corp. operates.


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