Korean video crew visits

Apr 7, 2006

Getting the scoop on how Kettering integrates professional work experiences with Engineering education.

A television crew from the Korean Broadcasting System was on campus Wednesday, April 5, to do interviews and research Kettering's relationship with the automotive industry for a program set to air on television in South Korea April 28.

Professor Reg Bell, of the Chemistry department, drew on his 40-plus years teaching at the university to talk about the history of the school and the relevance and importance of the co-op experience to Engineering education. "General Motors Institute was founded to develop the engineers necessary to support the growing auto industry," Bell told Kwan Chul Lee, a graduate student in Engineering at the University of Michigan and interpreter for the Korean Trade Center in Michigan.

Bell elaborated on the value of integrating co-operative employment into Engineering education and said one of the most important elements, in his opinion, was the senior thesis project. "The thesis forwards their progress professionally," Bell said of students.

Dr. Joel Berry, academic department head for Mechanical Engineering, discussed the addition of fuel cell technology and research to Kettering with the Korean reporters, explaining that the university recognized the trend toward researching alternative sources of energy to meet global energy demands.

"It is predicted demand will double in developing countries," said Berry. He said fuel cells are primarily used in specialized markets but in the future may be in laptop computers and cell phones.

Bob Nichols, vice president for Enrollment Management, explained in more detail the cooperative education structure at Kettering and how it differs from other schools and discussed the university's relationship with industry and how that has changed over the years.

"Our co-op program is unique in that we start co-op at the freshman level," said Nichols. "It used to bethat 100 percent of our students co-oped at General Motors," he said, "but now we have more then 650 co-op partners that hire our students. We don't just have students working at companies," Nichols said of the integration of professional and academic experiences, "the university also does collaborative research with our corporate partners as well as addressing developing needs of many of the companies."

When asked about the effect on the co-op program due to the economic woes of the Big Three auto makers, Nichols said that co-op positions remain stable with companies like General Motors, and that accounts with Toyota and Honda are growing. "The auto business is in good shape overall," he said.

In addition to the interviews, the television crew was able to get video footage of the Fuel Cell Center, the Crash Test Center, the Engine Dynomometer Lab and the SAE competition vehicle area.

Written by Dawn Hibbard