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Schweitzer Engineering Labs expanding into the Midwest with Purdue research facility

UPDATED: Thu., April 19, 2018, 10:39 a.m.

Edmund Schweitzer, a second-generation electrical engineer and inventor, looks out over the growing campus of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman in April 2016. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Edmund Schweitzer, a second-generation electrical engineer and inventor, looks out over the growing campus of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman in April 2016. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories of Pullman is expanding into the Midwest with plans to build a 100,000-square-foot facility for electric power research near Purdue University.

Up to 300 people will work in the research facility in West Lafayette, Indiana. Construction on the new building is expected to begin this summer.

In addition, Purdue alumnus Edmund O. Schweitzer III and his wife, Beatriz, will donate $3 million to Purdue University to endow a professorship in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and support the school’s power and energy systems research area.

“We are excited to establish a larger presence in the Midwest,” Schweitzer, the founder of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, said in a news release. “Purdue, of course, is dear to me and my family. My grandfather, the first Edmund Schweitzer, earned his degree in electrical engineering from Purdue in 1898.”

Schweitzer said the new facility will allow SEL to better serve its Midwest customers, and the company will benefit from proximity to Purdue’s research, talent pool and the ability to recruit future employees.

The Purdue School of Electrical and Computer Engineering is among the largest in the United States and is consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally.

A Northbrook, Illinois native, Schweitzer earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue in 1968 and 1971, respectively.

SEL employs about 5,200 people worldwide, with a workforce of about 2,400 in Pullman and 80 in Spokane. The employee-owned company invents, designs and builds digital products and systems that protect power grids around the world.

Schweitzer started SEL in the basement of his home in Pullman. In 1982, he left Washington State University, where he earned his doctorate and worked as a professor, to grow the company.

The company and the Schweitzers also have made significant donations to Washington State University and the University of Idaho.

In 2017, SEL donated $750,000 and Ed and Beatriz Schweitzer donated $750,000 to WSU to establish the Edmund O. Schweitzer III Chair in Power Apparatus and Systems in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.

In 2015, SEL donated $2 million to establish the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Chair in Power Engineering at UI’s College of Engineering.


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