Eaton Joins MBSE Ecosystem

New partnership brings mentorship and electrical engineering opportunities to Michigan Aerospace students

The Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) lab and systems engineering leadership education through the x88 course series has become highly sought after, not only for students in the University of Michigan Aerospace Engineering Department, but to organizations all over the country. Industry leaders and partners have celebrated the adoption of MBSE and the x88 framework into the curriculum, eager to join the coveted program. 

This month, a new partnership within the MBSE lab has sprouted, as we welcomed Eaton Aerospace Group into the ecosystem. This partnership will help enhance mentorship opportunities for students and foster the collaborative efforts already underway within the MBSE lab and x88 course series. 

“This partnership with Eaton is exciting on so many levels. It links us with a key aerospace supplier known for high quality and excellent engineering capabilities. It also will be our first foray into MBSE and systems development into power electronics, and allows us to demonstrate the same MBSE principles can be applied to key electrical subsystems, in addition to aircraft architectures, propulsion and space systems. Furthermore, Eaton’s excitement in engaging is palpable, and is creating that same excitement in the students participating in the Eaton project for next year,” commented Michigan Aerospace Professor of Practice and creator of the x88 and MBSE programs, George Halow.

Eaton is a renowned aerospace Tier 1 company, providing many critical aircraft subsystems to multiple OEMs. This specific partnership is driven out of the power management division, focusing on energy-efficient products and services to help customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more reliably, efficiently, safely and sustainably. Representatives from Eaton visited the department during the plaque hanging ceremony in acknowledgment of the company’s contributions to the program.

MBSE student hands representatives from Eaton Aerospace honorary plaque
MBSE student hands representatives from Eaton Aerospace Group honorary plaque

Tyler Ford, an alumni of Michigan Aerospace and General Manager of Engine Solutions and Electrification, Fluid and Electrical Distribution at Eaton Aerospace Group is also a member of the Michigan Aerospace Industrial Advisory Board (IAB), he expressed his excitement over the partnership and continued support of the Department. “Having gone through the aerospace program, the thing I valued most was getting hands-on experience. To see that focus and the attention placed on preparing students for entering into the ‘real world’ and layering in the MBSE tools and practices, is fantastic.” 

Ford went on to state how Eaton Aerospace Group’s president at the time saw the value of MBSE at U-M first hand and stated, “We have to be a part of this.” This level of enthusiasm toward the work being done within the lab speaks volumes about the level of support growing towards systems engineering at the undergraduate level. Ford further commented, “I am thrilled, being an alum, seeing what the university is doing and then also wanting to give back. The value that we are going to get is not only giving a great project and getting some unique ideas, but then hopefully being able to give them opportunities to join us and join our workforce.”

MBSE, the formalized application of modeling to support system requirements, design, analysis, verification and validation activities, begins its projects in the conceptual design phase and continues throughout development and later life cycle phases. The lab was launched in September 2021 as a first-of-its-kind facility for aerospace engineering students, providing a flexible product development and teaming space. 

Chintan Ved, Sr. Engineering Manager of Engine Solutions and Electrification, Fluid and Electrical Distribution at Eaton Aerospace Group, described the partnership as “a no brainer, the hands-on experience, the energy and the diversity of ideas that come through this machine, we can clearly leverage them.” Ved further commented on the MBSE and x88 course series within the Aerospace Engineering program, stating, “It is just amazing. I think the students have access to great resources. I like the focus on hands-on experience of making parts, breaking them, testing them, etc. It is a win-win for all parties involved.”

A major goal of MBSE and the x88 course series is to provide support and knowledge about various tools that can be used for modeling and project management. Students use the lab on cross-campus projects to design, build, test and fly aircraft using industry-proven systems engineering tools and processes.

“This is a great opportunity for Eaton Aerospace Group to partner with the University of Michigan and leverage MBSE to address the unique challenges of electrification in the aerospace industry. Collaboration will help the global Eaton Aerospace team to share their expertise while embracing new innovative ideas from students and prepare future leaders of the Aerospace industry,” stated Kelly Williams, Engineering Director for Fluid and Electrical Distribution at Eaton Aerospace Group. 

The two students leading this collaborative effort, Sean Pasek and Aaron Schwarz, stated their excitement for the partnership, claiming Eaton as their top choices of projects to work on, combining their passion for aerospace and interest in electrical engineering. “The Eaton industry partners have been great, they are so willing to work with us and mentor and it’s been a really cool experience to see them come into the lab and really want to take ownership of how we learn and how we become better engineers, which is a really nice thing to have,” explained Pasek.

The Eaton project that students have been working on incorporates flight critical hardware into the ecosystem for the first time. “There really isn’t anything currently in the x88 lab or the course work that has a focus on electrical engineering in relevance to aerospace like the Eaton project will, and that was what really interested me, combining the two worlds that I am interested in,” commented Schwarz during the plaque hanging ceremony. 

The MBSE and x88 systems engineering course series has created a program unique in the academic world at the undergraduate level. Enrollment has grown by an average of almost 80% per year over four years, and corporate partners such as Belcan, Blue Origin, Collins Aerospace, GE Aerospace, Leidos, MathWorks, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon, Siemens and now Eaton have all joined at the sponsoring level.

“This is a university sitting right in our backyard, so I am hopeful that we can leverage this into future opportunities. Even looking at the plaques on the wall, some of the other companies that MBSE is partnering with have reached out to us about possible partnerships. I think this can become an ecosystem, not just between the university, corporations and the students, but between the corporations themselves,” explained Ford. “I look at this as like minded individuals and like minded companies trying to further the industry along and leveraging this platform to do it.”