Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Gives $2 Million to Establish Endowed Chair

University of Idaho

MOSCOW, Idaho – Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (SEL) has donated $2 million to the University of Idaho College of Engineering to create an endowed chair position in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“The Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Chair in Power Engineering” establishes a highly honored academic position that will attract and support distinguished faculty in the field of power engineering and further the college’s mission of excellence in fundamental engineering education with real-world applications.

SEL invents, designs and builds digital products and systems that protect power grids around the world. This technology prevents blackouts and enables customers to improve power system reliability, safety and cost.

An endowed chair is a distinguished university professorship that is used to attract a preeminent scholar in a specific academic field, in this case power engineering.  The enhanced financial support and prestige generated by the endowment will dramatically fuel future innovation in electric power research and teaching.

SEL and UI’s College of Engineering have long enjoyed a valuable local partnership benefiting both organizations, students and employees.

“SEL is lucky to be neighbors with two excellent land-grant universities with well recognized colleges of engineering,” said SEL founder and President Edmund O. Schweitzer, III. “We enjoy great relationships with these universities — employing interns, hiring graduates, assisting with student projects and research, teaching classes and participating in job fairs.”

SEL currently employs over 250 UI alumni across the globe. Twenty-five SEL employees are currently enrolled at the UI and SEL provides internships for 58 UI students.

“We appreciate the opportunity the UI has given us to endow the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Chair in Power Engineering,” Schweitzer said. “Over the years, I’ve been privileged to work with many outstanding UI professors, including Tony Rigas, John Law, Joe Law, Richard Wall, Brian Johnson, Herb Hess, Deb Frincke, Paul Oman and many others. I am confident that this chair will help carry on the legacy of quality teaching and enable many students to discover the deep satisfaction of contributing to the safety, reliability and economy of electric power.”

UI will host an event on Tuesday, September 1, to announce the individual chosen to serve as the first Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Chair in Power Engineering. The selected professor will serve as a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

“Endowed chairs are the most esteemed positions in academia and are only awarded to top tier faculty,” said Larry Stauffer, dean of the College of Engineering. “The Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Chair in Power Engineering will further establish our college and university as a premier electrical engineering program that provides world-class education and research in electrical engineering with an emphasis on power, control systems, network communication and smart grid technology and prepares graduates for successful professional careers at SEL and the broader energy industry. We are grateful for the longstanding partnership we have with SEL and this gift demonstrates how we can work together to provide educational leadership to a vital sector of the global economy.”   

Endowed chair positions are supported by earnings from invested funds. Proceeds from the endowment will support the research program of the endowed faculty member by funding students, staff, travel and equipment.

“As SEL continues to invent new ways to monitor and control electric power systems, we require highly-qualified engineers," said David Whitehead, vice present of Research and Development at SEL. “UI has a rich tradition of educating power engineers capable of contributing to our mission on day one. Creating this endowed chair is a great way for us to help educate the next generation of power systems professionals by partnering with the UI’s world-class engineering program.”

SEL, a 100 percent employee-owned company that is headquartered in Pullman, Washington, has manufactured products in the United States since 1984 and now serves customers in 147 countries. SEL provides unmatched technical support and customer service with a 10-year worldwide warranty. SEL is dedicated to growing the next generation of engineering and business professionals. The company partners with universities around the world, offering guest lectures, equipment donations, full-time internships, and special project sponsorships.