Automotive engineering on steroids

Jul 27, 2007

Kettering student Scott DeWyse's co-op job prepared him to be a heavy duty truck engineer and gave this Bay City man some fringe benefits that he's enjoying.

In a professional area referred to as "Automotive Engineering on steroids," Scott DeWyse, of Bay City, Mich., got a solid engineering education from his co-op employer, with the equivalent of a professional "cherry on top."

DeWyse has worked for Eaton Heavy Duty Truck Components North American World Headquarters and Engineering Center in Galesburg, Mich., (near Kalamazoo) for two years as a co-op employee. (Kettering's curriculum is based on professional cooperative education, with students attending classes and working in their field of study on rotating three-month terms year round.)

Eaton's Galesburg facility is the site for heavy and medium-duty transmission research and development. In addition, all engineering support functions, sales, marketing, and aftermarket groups are in Galesburg. DeWyse's position not only allowed him to conduct original research for his thesis, but he was also trained and licensed as a commercial truck driver (the cherry on top, he says).

Many Eaton co-op students working at the Galesburg facility are offered an opportunity to get a Michigan CDL (Commercial Driver's License) as a function of their employment, and Eaton pays for the two-week training course.

"It's beneficial to us because then we have one more driver available when testing," said Jeff Spitzner, senior applications engineer at Eaton. 'It's fun for them and it's something different to put on their resumes," he added.

The training came in handy when DeWyse had to perform research testing for his thesis project (all Kettering students must complete a thesis to graduate). "My thesis project was called 'Oil Level/Temperature Sensor Evaluation,'" explained DeWyse. "The motivation behind the project was to provide me with some additional Electrical Engineering experience since my every day job at Eaton didn't require much Electrical Engineering work," he said.

His project consisted of developing a test plan and testing a new sensor design to verify proper operation, environmental durability, and accuracy. The new sensor could potentially save Eaton warranty cost losses if used in all of the transmission models the company produces for heavy duty trucks by reducing the amount of low lube warranty claims, according to DeWyse.

To test the sensor DeWyse conducted vibration testing which was simulated in a vibration testing chamber in Galesburg. "We had to ensure that the sensors would survive in the harsh heavy duty transmission environment," he said. "The tests included environmental testing, accuracy testing, and reliability testing. I designed many different tests to cover these main areas of concern," added DeWyse. Other projects he worked on provided DeWyse opportunities to drive big rigs around the 1.5-mile test track at Eaton's proving grounds in Marshall, Mich., also the site of Eaton's Supercharger facility.

"Eaton is a prime example of an alternative automotive co-op employer," said Carmon Liversedge, Corporate Relations manager at Kettering, of the global industrial manufacturer.

DeWyse couldn't have been happier with his co-op assignment. "Every person here has been more than willing to help answer questions and to provide any training that I may have needed," he said. "A day never went by when I didn't learn something new. Eaton is the type of company that requires life long learning because of the new technology that is being developed each year," he added.

"By the end of my last co-op term, I was completely independent and didn't really require any supervision by my supervisor. I was making decisions that would be sent directly to the truck OEM's and the end use customers," he said.

Having chosen Kettering for the cooperative education opportunity, DeWyse said his advice for students new to the co-op program is to be selective when choosing a co-op employer, "because if you aren't totally happy with the tasks you are assigned, then the co-op experience is not going to be beneficial at all," and that the best paying job isn't always the best career choice.

After two years on the job he believes no matter how good the education "the best learning and experience is going to take place on the job out in the real world."

DeWyse will graduate later this year. He is currently awaiting a formal job offer from Eaton.

About Eaton Corporation
Eaton is a global leader in electrical systems and components for power quality, distribution and control; fluid power systems and services for industrial, mobile and aircraft equipment; intelligent truck drive-train systems for safety and fuel economy; and automotive engine air management systems, powertrain solutions and specialty controls for performance, fuel economy and safety. Eaton has 56,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 125 countries. For more information about Eaton, visit http://www.eaton.com/EatonCom/index.htm

About Eaton Corporation Truck Components:
The Truck Components division had $2.28 billion in revenue in 2005. It serves heavy- and medium-duty original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), specialty and off-road vehicles, engine and powertrain manufactures, aftermarket, distributors and fleet management.

Headquartered in Kalamazoo, Mich., the Truck Components group employs more than 6,700 workers globally and includes 15 manufacturing plants and 20 sales and service locations in nine countries.

Written by Dawn Hibbard
810-762-9865
dhibbard@kettering.edu