Montana State University

MSU, Boeing legacy goes back generations

January 18, 2011 -- MSU News Service


Ross Snider, electrical and computer engineering professor at MSU, was one of nine people to receive a 2010 Boeing Welliver Faculty Fellowship and the first MSU recipient ever. Snider is just the most recent example of MSU's beneficial relationship with Boeing. To read how Snider is using his fellowship experience to improve his curriculum for students, read MSU engineering professor incorporates elite Boeing training into classroom. (MSU photo by Kelly Gorham).    High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu
BOZEMAN -- Boeing and Montana State University have a long-standing and important relationship, according to officials at both institutions.

Over the years, Boeing has hired hundreds of MSU graduates, primarily from the College of Engineering and the College of Business. It has hired MSU interns, funded scholarships and donated gifts-in-kind, such as computers, to the university. It established a Boeing professorship in the College of Engineering and funds MSU research projects. It supports EMPower, the Engineering Minority Program, at MSU, and other efforts to attract and retain women and minorities in engineering.

Last year, Boeing awarded Ross Snider, an electrical and computer engineering professor at MSU, one of nine Welliver Faculty Fellowships. To read how Snider is using his fellowship experience to improve his curriculum for students, read MSU engineering professor incorporates elite Boeing training into classroom.

Lindsay Anderson and Helene Michael -- MSU alumni and executives at Boeing -- currently serve on MSU's Engineering Advisory Council. Donald C. Larson -- another Boeing executive -- serves on the National Board of Advisors for MSU's College of Business.

"There is a very tangible level of legacy of MSU alumni at Boeing that goes back many generations," said Robert Marley, dean of the College of Engineering. "When students interview at Boeing, there is virtually no area of the company where they would not run into an MSU grad."

Both Boeing as a company and the MSU grads who have worked for it have contributed tremendously to the university.

Lysle Wood, a 1925 graduate, spent 45 years with Boeing and retired as a vice president in 1970. Wood left the College of Engineering a $1 million estate gift that established the
Lysle Wood Distinguished Professorship in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Professor Doug Cairns currently holds the professorship. In addition to teaching, he conducts research on advanced materials for aerospace, civil, and marine applications.

In 2005, the company completed funding of a $1 million Boeing professorship at MSU. Durward K. Sobek II, in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, was appointed the first Boeing Professor and charged with designing an undergraduate program to teach engineering students how to work effectively on a multi-disciplinary team and help prepare them for work in a global economy. MSU is one of only roughly 20 universities worldwide in which Boeing has endowed such a professorship.

Boeing has also funded a group led by Steve Shaw, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, to look at controls and diagnostics at the interface between fuel cells and power electronics for next-generation Boeing aircraft.

"Boeing looks for 'Best in Class' research that will help us maintain a competitive advantage now and in the future. Dr. Shaw's research is of that quality and addresses a gap in the fuel cell research Boeing needs," said Jeff Sipes, system engineer and Boeing Research Focal to MSU.

"MSU does research that isn't found at other institutions. We are looking at several other areas where MSU's research is the best in class and may fill the company's needs," Sipes said.

Dan Moshavi, dean of the College of Business, said that Boeing, especially in the past 10 years, has hired a significant number of students from the College of Business, including several in its prestigious management training program. He added that several MSU alumni who work in Boeing are good about keeping in touch with MSU. They share their experiences, new opportunities and their excitement.

"It's a really nice long-standing relationship," Moshavi said. "It's a great place for our students to work as far as professional challenges and opportunities."

Carina Beck, director of MSU's Career and Internship Services, said, "We consider Boeing to be a leader in industry for developing not only our interns, but our graduates so they have meaningful careers with great potential."

Many Boeing executives, particularly in operations and engineering, are MSU graduates who have demonstrated their abilities and leadership capabilities, said Anderson, Boeing's vice president for 737 field operations and delivery.

Other MSU graduates in Boeing leadership positions include Perry Moore, who graduated in 1980 with a mechanical engineering technology degree, and is the general manager of a 1.2 million square foot manufacturing plant outside Portland, Ore., that performs complex hard metals machining and assembly of airplane components. The plant employs roughly 1,500 people.

Summit Aeronautics in Helena, which Boeing recently acquired and renamed Boeing Helena, is also under Moore's oversight. The Helena fabrication plant, with its 135 employees, will be managed by another MSU graduate, Eric Smith, who has worked for Boeing since 1988 and earned is undergraduate degree in business finance.

Helene Michael, a 1985 graduate in mechanical engineering technology, is the vice president of 737 manufacturing operations, overseeing part ordering and scheduling from more than 400 suppliers all over the world.

"The biggest take away I took from my MSU education was the integration between engineering and technology: learning about the practical application of what I read and designed and then putting it into practice," said Michael, who will be a keynote speaker at MSU's Women in Engineering dinner in February. "Nothing is more humbling and thrilling than walking in other people's shoes and seeing and understanding the bigger picture."

As an "Industry Focal" and liaison between Boeing and MSU, Anderson encourages MSU in its efforts to attract and retain more women and minorities in engineering. Boeing wants a diverse workplace, so it encourages diversity in the universities with which it associates, Anderson said. Boeing also wants students who are strong in the fundamentals of engineering or business. It wants students who work well in a team environment and across disciplines.

"Having them understand a bigger picture than a very specific part of a system or one discipline is very important," Anderson said.

Boeing has identified key universities throughout the nation and world in which it wanted to invest money and time, Anderson said.

"MSU has been one of those and continues to be one of those," he said.

For a related article, see "MSU engineering professor incorporates elite Boeing training into classroom."

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu