The Edward F. Cross School of Engineering will celebrate National Engineers’ Week with an annual Engineering Dinner and Egg Drop competition.  On February 18, Dr. Edmund O. Schweitzer, III will be speaking at the dinner.  Dr. Schweitzer, is recognized as a pioneer in digital protection of electric power systems and holds the grade of Fellow in the IEEE, a title bestowed on less than one percent of IEEE members. In 2002, he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering and received the 2012 Medal of Power Engineering, the highest award given by IEEE, for his leadership in revolutionizing the performance of electrical power systems with computer-based protection and control equipment.  He founded Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc., to develop and manufacture digital protective relays and related products and services.  Dr. Schweitzer will be presenting “Technological Revolution in the Electric Power Industry.” The dinner will take place at the Marcus Whitman Hotel at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $25 for students and $40 for the general public.  Those who wish to attend can RSVP by calling 527-2765, by Feb 14.  Another featured event will be the annual Egg Drop Contest at noon on Kretschmar Lawn, Thursday, February 20.   Participants will toss eggs off the roof of Kretschmar Hall in the hopes that their egg-safety devices they have designed will protect the egg from breaking as it hits the ground.

School of Engineering Observes National Engineers' Week

By Hilary Nieland

The Edward F. Cross School of Engineering will celebrate National Engineers’ Week, with an annual Engineering Dinner and Egg Drop competition on Feb. 21.

Blaine D. Leonard, will be speaking at the dinner. Leonard is a licensed engineer in Utah, California, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, and Colorado and was named the 2009 Utah Engineer of the Year. Leonard served as the 2010 president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, chaired or served on 17 national ASCE committees, and chaired the Task Committee to Achieve the Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025. He is currently employed as the Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Manager for the Utah Department of Transportation.

Leonard will be presenting “The Future of Engineering: A Glimpse into Challenges, Trends, and Solutions.” He states that the boundaries of engineering are being challenged by rapid advancements in science and technology. He says that “it is now clear that the complex challenges facing 21st century society will require professional engineers to advance their technical excellence and professional leadership in order to continue to protect the public and improve its quality of life.”

Leonard believes that the current required education for an engineer, a 4-year degree, will soon not be sufficient to prepare students to meet future responsibilities and requirements. He calls upon current engineering students to “stretch those boundaries and prepare for the future.” 
The dinner will take place at Whitman College in the Campus Reid Center at 6:30 p.m. The event is open to anyone. The cost is $20 for students and $30 for the general public. Those who wish to attend can RSVP by calling 527-2765 by Feb. 15.

Another featured event will be the annual Egg Drop Contest at noon on Kretschmar Lawn. Participants will toss eggs off the roof of Kretschmar Hall in the hopes that their egg-safety device will protect the egg from breaking as it hits the ground.


School of Engineering News

President of Commuter Cars Speaks at 2012 Engineering Dinner

Presentation Highlights Tango Electric Car

Imagine a world without traffic and parking congestion. That dream is what motivated Rick Woodbury, founder and president of Commuter Cars in Spokane, Wash., to start looking for an alternative to the 4-plus-passenger, gasoline-powered car or SUV that most of us currently drive. His solution: the Tango, an electric vehicle that is about the size of a motorcycle while still offering the safety and comfort of a car. At just 39 inches wide, it can fit comfortably in half of a lane and park in as little as a quarter of a parallel parking space.

Woodbury’s company and the Tango will be the subject of his presentation, “Innovative Disruption in the World of Transportation,” at the 2012 Engineers Dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the Reid Campus Center on the campus of Whitman College in Walla Walla. 

Woodbury’s story begins in about 1982 when he was stuck in traffic, commuting from Hermosa Beach to Beverly Hills California, where he was a sales manager for a high-end car dealer, Beverly Hills Porsche-Audi. He noted that all of the cars around him had a single occupant. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there are 140 million workers in the United States, of whom 106 million are single-occupant drivers carrying around four or more empty seats, causing traffic and parking congestion. It was during this drive that the idea of a narrower car occurred to him.

Woodbury says, “I heard a quote once: To innovate, don't ask people what they want, but rather watch what they do. That is the key to innovation. It has nothing to do with the past, comparing with other products. It has everything to do with the present and future. If there is a problem that is causing suffering, and a solution exists to remove that suffering that is obvious to potential purchasers of that solution and it has a value in relation to its benefits, there is a market.”

“A typical electric car is not a disruptive innovation. It does not fall into the problem-solving category described above. I know of no innovations that were successful that didn't make people's life easier or more comfortable. Electric sedans and trucks take away usefulness and security in most ways and give little back in return. Being green will certainly sell a number of EVs; however, it is not enough to get tens of millions to switch from gasoline to electric.”

 “Disruption must make a major improvement, and in the case of electric cars, must have huge benefits to make up for the drawbacks,” says Woodbury.

Using his extensive mechanical and electrical engineering experience, he started building a prototype with his son, Bryan, in a garage in 1998. The Tango has been in constant development since then, with 11 produced to date. Tangos have been sold to the Google founders, George Clooney, and a number of others. While the Tango is expensive at present, it is only because it is in extremely low production. There is no reason that it couldn't be manufactured as inexpensively as any other car, of the same quality, if produced in the same volume, says Woodbury.

Woodbury will also discuss the simple engineering principles that make this car possible despite the initial reactions of safety and rollover stability. His presentation will be followed by a brief Q&A session.

 Tickets for the event are $30. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call (509) 527-2765. Tickets must be purchased by Friday, Feb. 17.

 For the latest Tango news and videos, visit the Tango blog at:

Students create large prototype for Key Technology

The School of Engineering at WWU boasts a variety of state-of-the-art machines and high-tech gadgets that allow students to get real-world experience before they even receive their degrees.  One such piece of technology is the rapid prototyping machine, purchased through the generosity of donors interested in seeing the program grow even more.

Nadine Lashier, NASA Training Lead

2007 NanoQuest Season

A great year for the ARL-North Pacific Regional Robotics Challenge. Twenty (20) teams participated this year; three (3) Junior FLL and seventeen (17) FLL. This year's Champion's Award was given to The Paraboles from Spokane Jr. Academy. Photos can be found in the Engineering Photo Gallery.

Heisler Retires

Wavy Wand Shown on HGTV Holiday Toy Special

Intern Blogs Summer 2006 Experience

2006 Senior Design Projects

Nome, AK Wins 1st ARL National Lego Challenge

Engineering Students Make a Difference in the Community

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Last update on February 5, 2014