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Donor establishes endowed chair at UTA to promote research and innovation in automotive design, mechanical engineering, and Formula SAE team

A gift from entrepreneur and businessman Paul E. Andrews, Jr. will establish the Dr. Bob Woods Chair in Automotive Engineering.

Through a gift from entrepreneur and businessman Paul E. Andrews, Jr., The University of Texas at Arlington will establish an endowed chair to promote research, innovation and development of best practices in the general areas of automotive engineering and design, mechanical engineering, and the Formula SAE (FSAE) racing team.

The Dr. Bob Woods Chair in Automotive Engineering Endowed by Paul E. Andrews, Jr. honors longtime UTA mechanical engineering professor and Formula SAE advisor Bob Woods.

Andrews founded TTI, Inc., in 1971. The Fort Worth-based company celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2016 as the world’s leading authorized distributor of passive, connector, electromechanical and discrete components for industrial, military, aerospace and consumer electronics manufacturers. TTI acquired Texas-based Mouser Electronics in 2000 and Andrews sold majority ownership of the company to Berkshire Hathaway in 2006.

Andrews has enthusiastically supported the FSAE racing team since he first met Bob Woods through a mutual friend and has been an avid car aficionado for most of his life. His love for cars and automotive engineering is what initially drew him to UTA’s racing team, but it was Woods’ character and leadership that inspired him to give.  

“Bob has always encouraged innovation and ingenuity,” said Andrews. “And his teams have shown great ability to be on the leading edge of technology and use it to their advantage on the track and upon their entry into industry after graduation. UTA’s Formula SAE team is the gold standard of collegiate racing, and Bob Woods has been the heart and soul of the program for more than 30 years. I am happy to recognize him by endowing a chair in his honor.” 

Peter Crouch, College of Engineering Dean; Erian Armanios, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department Chair; donor Paul E. Andrews, Jr; Bob Woods, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Vistasp Karbhari, UTA President

Woods, who joined UTA’s College of Engineering in 1974, founded the student racing program in 1982. The team has since won eight championships in the United States and international titles in England, Japan and Australia.

At one point, the team earned a No. 1 ranking in the U.S. and climbed as high as No. 5 in the world.

Each year, participating students from across the campus design and build a formula racing car from the tires up and then race their vehicles against collegiate teams across the country and internationally. 

Recent cars have featured active aerodynamics and advanced battery technology, including a hybrid car and a fully electric vehicle that was unveiled in 2017.

“We are extremely grateful to Paul for his generous gift and for honoring a faculty member who has not only inspired creativity and innovation in hundreds of students but has also mentored them through the Formula SAE competitions to match teamwork and experiential learning with scholarship in the classroom,” said UTA President Vistasp Karbhari. “Bob Woods stands as a giant among faculty nationally, setting very high standards of excellence and commitment to student success. He has been instrumental in establishing an internationally renowned program that attracts students from across our campus and this gift ensures not only that his legacy will continue but that the program continues to grow in strength and excellence. Gifts such as these are transformative for a university.”

A 2017 Piper Professor, Distinguished Teaching Professor, and a 2017 UT System Regents Outstanding Teaching Award recipient, Woods has garnered several honors in his time at UTA. He won the “Triple E” Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers International in 2013. The award is a singular honor given annually for Excellence in Engineering Education. Woods also received the 2006 Chancellor’s Teaching Award. The award is presented annually by The University of Texas System Chancellor’s Council to recognize excellence in teaching at each of the system’s nine universities.

Woods also worked to establish the Arnold E. Petsche Center for Automotive Engineering. The Center promotes engineering education, innovation and entrepreneurship, especially through FSAE.

“Bob Woods and the FSAE program are well-established as leaders in innovation and education here at UTA, and alumni of the program are working for major automotive manufacturers, professional racing teams and dozens of other automotive and mechanical engineering companies nationwide,” College of Engineering Dean Peter Crouch said.

“Having an endowed chair focused on automotive engineering and the FSAE team is a well-deserved recognition of what Bob has built in his time here, and it also puts the College of Engineering on solid footing to protect his legacy long into the future.”

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department Chair Erian Armanios also underscored what Woods has meant to the program. “UTA’s FSAE program, driven by Bob Woods, inspired and challenged generations of students. The program harnessed their boundless energy and helped them develop practical skills through the application of complex principles and theories. Paul’s investment in education through the Dr. Bob Woods Chair extends his record of caring and creates his legacy of trail-blazing innovation that will light the way to an ever-better future for generations of students to come.”

Describing his relationship with Andrews, Woods said, “Our friend Arnold Petsche introduced me to Paul Andrews. Paul is a highly successful entrepreneur and businessman and has started, bought and developed very large international electronic corporations. He is also a true ‘car guy’ and amassed a very large collection of very unique and collectable cars. This interest in cars is what we share and I suspect part of his motivation to support the automotive engineering program at UTA. I am pleased and honored to have my name associated with his.” 

Woods received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from SMU and master’s and doctoral degrees from Oklahoma State University. He had three years’ experience in research with the government before joining the faculty at UTA. Woods has extensive consulting and industrial experience with national and international companies as well.

--written by Jeremy Agor