Kettering honors pioneer of auto industry and philanthropist

Jun 12, 2003

They're together again -- C.S. Mott and "Boss Ket."

They're together again -- C.S. Mott and "Boss Ket."

C.S. Mott was a pioneer of the auto industry and noted philanthropist. "Boss Ket," or Charles Kettering, was the auto pioneerand inventor for whom Kettering University is named. The two men were industrialists, visionaries and good friends here inFlint. And they are together again.

Kettering University named its new $42 million facility the C.S. Mott Engineering and Science Center during ceremonies June11.

Kettering President James E.A. John officiated, aided by representatives of the Mott Foundation, as a large drape was removed to show the new building's name. It recognizes the $10 million contribution the Mott Foundation made in establishing the facilities.

"Charles Stewart Mott was keenly interested in people's capacity for accomplishment and at the same time he showed a deep concern for the community of Flint," President John said. "This beautiful new building helps Kettering participate in Mr. Mott's vision of discovery and learning, and his commitment to our hometown. To this technical university, this is a dream come true.

"We are very grateful to Mr. Mott for his timeless leadership and to the Mott Foundation for helping make the C.S. Mott Engineering and Science Center a reality," President John added.

William S. White, of the Mott Foundation, said C.S. Mott and "Boss Ket" were good friends. "It's great to have these two names, these two friends, reunited here at Kettering University. C.S. being a practical engineer would appreciate seeing a whole bunch of practical engineers sweating blood in this new building to get the job done. He'd be pleased," White said.

The new Mott Center incorporates a high-tech exterior look, housing a new century of Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry,research and laboratories. The exterior features silversmith and slate gray metal panels, streamlining the look of the 1940sblock building into a modern engineering center. The $42 million construction project is the first completely new academic building at Kettering in 70 years.

The Mott Center, located southeast of the Campus Center, has three stories and approximately 129,000 gross square feet. Architect for the project is Harley Ellis of Southfield and construction manager is Barton Malow of Southfield. The new interior contains contemporary colors of bianco sardo (off white), labradorite (cobalt blue) and cinnamon (brick red).

The building was originally built by General Motors Corp. in 1940 and known as Building 35. Chevrolet Manufacturing used the facility as a customer delivery unit. Early prototype work on the Corvette was completed in the building, which was later used by AC Delco and then donated to the University by Delphi Automotive Systems in 1996.

The first floor houses an automotive engine test cell, instrumentation and control equipment designed in collaboration with Lubrizol. The first floor also contains an undergraduate automotive design center, where vehicles for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and other motor sport competitions are designed and fabricated. It will also be the home of a new automotive crash test lab and fuel cell demonstration and research facilities.

The second floor is the new home of Kettering's largest academic department -- Mechanical Engineering, including laboratories and faculty and departmental offices. It is a 25 percent increase in space over the department's current facilities.

A third floor was added to the structure for Chemistry laboratories and faculty and departmental offices. The chemistry program more than doubled its current space to 24,000 square feet. A feature of these facilities will be Bell Undergraduate Chemistry Labs named for Professor Reginald Bell, an outstanding teacher and mentor who has served on the faculty for more than 40 years. The third floor also has an undeveloped space that will allow for future expansion.

President John noted that Kettering is one of the top producers of undergraduate mechanical engineers in the United States. "Our new laboratories will not only enhance the technical education of our students but will enable us to perform cutting edge research in cooperation with our corporate partners," he said. "This will add an important new dimension to our University."

C.S. Mott (1875-1973) was an automotive pioneer, who was invited to move his Weston-Mott Co. from New York to Flintby industrialist Billy Durant in 1905. The company became the world's largest axle manufacturing company, paving the way for Mott to begin a career as an industrialist and philanthropist. He served as a vice president for General Motors from 1916to 1937, was the mayor of Flint for three terms and created the Mott Foundation in 1926.

Written by Patricia Mroczek
(810) 762-9533
pmroczek@kettering.edu