Co-op program doesn't just educate students -- it keeps faculty close to industry

Dr. Raghu Echempati, affectionately known by his students as Professor E, believes the balance between theory and practice makes Kettering University an ideal and unique place to teach and learn.

"I enjoy the way we teach here," said Echempati, who came to the University in 1997. "Just about every faculty member works hard to establish a sound balance between theory and practice delivered to students in an applied manner. This is very important because Kettering students--undergraduates and graduates--are very intelligent and work hard in our fast-paced academic environment, which makes it challenging for professors to deliver quality instructional material in a way that promotes understanding in the least amount of time necessary."

For Echempati, who earned his master's and Ph.D. degrees from the Indian Institute of Technology, the balance between theory and practice, and the chance to work with some of the brightest students in the country represent a few of the many reasons why he enjoys his career at Kettering. Other significant advantages include the co-op program, which allows professors opportunities to conduct applied research with students and develop consulting endeavors with outside corporations.

"These benefits, at least in my view, are very limited at other schools," he said.

Echempati also feels that Kettering's brand of co-op education exposes him to students involved in real-life industrial experiences, which educates him and helps enhance his teaching material every term through the inclusion of professional experiences shared by students. These attributes, along with what he considers a friendly and relaxed academic faculty, staff and small student body, make his career at Kettering most enjoyable.

But Kettering's value as a good place to develop one's career extends well beyond these aspects. Echempati views the University as an excellent place to establish new endeavors that impact the education of all students while contributing to scholarship and research undertaken by faculty and staff. With this in mind, some initiatives and activities he hopes to pursue in the future include applied research opportunities, more consulting experiences, the development of a manufacturing simulation laboratory and increased participation in Kettering's Study Abroad programs.

Additionally, he expects to develop proposals to fund design simulation and manufacturing simulation resources at Kettering. In his opinion, Kettering offers exceptional, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, which he hopes to build on in the near future.

"Kettering has excellent computational lab facilities that many parents admire when they come to tour the campus with their children," he said. "This makes Kettering very attractive to the brightest students and it would be great to offer even more laboratories of the same quality."

Currently, that crop of bright students includes his daughter, Sharwari, who expects to graduate from Kettering's Mechanical Engineering program in 2002. Echempati's second daughter, Aparna, will attend Michigan State University this fall and major in journalism and communications. Echempati, along with his wife Pankaja and their daughters, reside in Grand Blanc, Michigan.

The balancing act between theory and practice that Echempati recognizes in Kettering's brand of education is one that motivates him to do his best work in both the classroom and laboratory. More importantly, this balance, which one can only experience as a student, staff member or professor at Kettering, puts him in direct contact with the nation's brightest science and engineering students, which, as he puts it, "gives me a chance to learn from them every day."