"The Seattle University Project Center creates experiential learning opportunities by connecting students and faculty with corporate partners," said Father Steve Sundborg, president of Seattle University. "Companies such as Paccar and Kenworth Truck Company have provided mentorship and projects for Seattle U students for 25 years."
"Support from the business and manufacturing world is vital to educational institutions," added Teodora Rutar Shuman, Seattle U's associate professor and chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department. "Our projects with Kenworth give our students real-world situations and challenges. Since it is real world, the students know that they can make an impact and create something of commercial value. Some of their work has even been patented by Kenworth and the students are recognized in those patents."
During a special ceremony marking Seattle University's 25th Anniversary Projects Day, Kenworth was recognized for its long-time support of the program. "We have maintained a strong commitment to this joint program and especially appreciate the contributions made by the participating students and faculty over the years," said Kenworth Assistant General Manager for Operations Reid Nabarrete, a Seattle University alumnus with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
Alec Wong, Kenworth's principal research engineer, works closely with the Seattle U students and faculty on a regular basis. The group also sometimes meets with the Kenworth design team. According to Wong, not only does Kenworth come up with a project, students are able to carry out the project all the way through completion - often using Kenworth's Research and Development Center for prototyping.
"This gives our students a stronger feel for the engineering profession," said Shuman. "Students are more motivated to learn and contribute and they receive deeper learning in the process. It's one thing to design something on paper or in the computer, it's something entirely different to see their vision and work become real in a prototype."
According to Wong, while the primary mission is for Kenworth to give back to the university, it also has benefits for Kenworth. "Since we give them dynamic projects, the students often come up with ideas that we can incorporate into production models," he said. "The students have the freedom to think outside the box and they have great enthusiasm for what they're doing. It's always exciting to see what they come up with."
Often times, the work of the students continues on with Kenworth. "Many have come to work for Kenworth in internship positions," said Wong, who was also honored by Seattle University with its Top Project Liaison Award for his past 10 years of ongoing contributions to the joint program. "And we have several engineers now on staff who were first exposed to Kenworth through our projects at the university."