Bosch Professorship awarded

Jul 29, 2004

Mark G. Thompson, from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, will nurture Kettering's relationship with the Bosch Corp.

Mark G. Thompson, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), has been named to Kettering's Bosch Professorship, an endowed chair that fosters and nurtures the University's relationship with the Robert Bosch Corp. Bosch is a wholly owned subsidiary of Robert Bosch GmbH of Germany and an important co-op employer and friend of the University.

Thompson's appointment began in July for a three-year term. He said he is very pleased to be named to the professorship. "The Bosch Corporation has been a strong supporter of our programs. They are an international corporation that goes along with our philosophy of preparing professionals with a broad point of view," he said.

Thompson and other faculty members have been nurturing the University's relationship with Bosch for a number of years. They were part of the team led by Thompson, and including ECE Professor Mohammad Torfeh and Associate Professor Douglas Melton, who helped establish the Bosch Automotive Electronic Systems Laboratory in November 2000. The modern lab encourages Kettering students to investigate and develop automotive electronic control systems and implement them on targeted micro-controllers using state-of-the-art rapid prototyping techniques.

"We've been working for quite a while now to develop top-notch students in the areas that assist Bosch," Thompson said. "The Bosch lab has become the centerpiece of our department, which is great for Bosch, our students and a helpful marketing tool for us." The lab also supports the new course, EE-580, Automotive Electronic Systems, which along with lab exercises and projects give Kettering students a unique experience in current automotive electronics. He has also been a course coordinator and frequent instructor for EE-490, Senior Design Project.

Students appreciate the partnership. "Bosch is a great co-op employer," said Ryan Carrithers, a junior from Lapeer and Business Management major who works in Bosch's finance department. "They treat me like an employee and not a co-op student. My boss expects me to do the work of a regular employee and I really like that. Add in the fact that you work with both Germans and Americans, you end up with a cultural experience, too."

The Bosch professorship was established in the late 1980s, with Professor Albert Simeon initially serving in the endowed chair. Others have included Torfeh and Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Raghu Echempati.

Bosch is consistently one of the University's top employers of co-op students. Thompson's hope is to utilize the professorship to actively pursue new interests with the company, which already have a focus on electronic throttle controls, fuel injection, power seat and wiper controls. "As the Bosch Professor, I propose to continue the development of the automotive electronics educational program, ensuring that course content remains up-to-date and enhances project exercises. The relationship with Bosch representatives will provide additional insightful input into the specific nature of the student design projects to be undertaken," Thompson said.

Thompson has been at Kettering since 1988. During his tenure, he has served as faculty adviser to the student SAE hybrid vehicle competition and adviser to the Formula Lightning electric race team.

He is currently leading the electrical engineering R&D efforts for the hydrogen fuel cell hybrid vehicle for Kettering's Center for Fuel Cell Systems and Powertrain Integration. "The goal is to develop a demonstration vehicle that will serve as a mobile laboratory platform for future research and development projects for both graduate and undergraduate students pursuing degrees related to fuel cell system integration," he explained.

Thompson is also advising a student project developing the power conditioning control interface for the demonstration vehicle and advising graduate students working on vehicle modeling and ultra capacitor integration. "I propose for this activity to continue and potentially become a major research area during the Bosch Professorship," he noted.

With Torfeh, Thompson also serves as co-coordinator and adviser to the electrical engineering study abroad programs with Reutlingen and Ulm universities in Germany. "The program provides opportunities for both Kettering students in Germany and German students studying at Kettering," he said. "It gives us a way to investigate mutual interests in these unique international academic programs that benefit both Bosch and Kettering."

An advocate for alternative energy since the 1970s solar-cell experiments, Thompson earned all his academic degrees from Michigan State University. He came to Kettering 15 years ago from Michigan Technological University.

He and his wife Carol, a speech therapist in Mt. Morris schools, have been married for 26 years. Their children, Sean, 16, and Elise, 15, both attend Flushing High School. The family lives in Flushing.

Written by Patricia Mroczek
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