Kettering University Centennial

Resource Type: Newsletters | July 31, 2019

In 1919, what is now Kettering University opened its doors as The School of Automobile Trades. No stranger to name changes, it became the Flint Institute of Technology in 1923 when it began offering a full four-year program. In 1923, General Motors acquired the school and it became known as the General Motors Institute (GMI). After 56 years, GM divested, and the school was renamed GMI Engineering & Management Institute or GMI-EMI. Finally, in 1998, it was named Kettering University.

This year, the school is celebrating its centennial. We celebrate the school’s commitment to innovative and relevant education. From its founding to train the new automobile industry, to being among the first -and still few- to offer a true co-op program, Kettering has evolved with the times, preparing excellent engineers. Two years ago, in our September 2017 newsletter, we highlighted the evolution of the school with its new Learning Commons, and interviewed university president, Dr. Bob McMahan. The school continues to keep up with the times, and we couldn’t be more proud of this alma mater.

Patti-Kettering Connection

Patti Engineering has a tight connection with Kettering University. Several of our team are graduates, including Sam Hoff, CEO; Dave Foster, VP of Engineering; Steve Palmgren, VP of Sales and Marketing; Alan Purdy, Electrical Engineer; and Brad Grabow, Electrical Engineer. You can read more about their favorite memories, classes and professors, below.

We have also had the pleasure of hosting coops for many years and sponsor The Clayton R. Smith Memorial Scholarship for incoming students.

Commencement 2019

As part of the 100th commencement, Kettering gathered alumni speakers from each of the last eight decades. Sam Hoff, CEO of Patti Engineering, had the honor of representing the 1990s. You can view his speech at the link below.

At the event, he had the pleasure of meeting several interesting and accomplished alum, including Albert Sobey, Jr. Al’s father, Albert “Major” Sobey, founded the school. Al Jr. has been quite the success in his own right! He earned many patents throughout his career. One of the first was for his thesis written in 1945 at his coop at Allison. It was related to a military aircraft engine and was classified by the DOD for 50 years until 1995! Now in his 90s, he still works and is involved in a startup.

Watch Commencement Speech

Related categories: CommunityMichigan

Sam Hoff's Bio


Samuel M. Hoff, Chief Executive Officer, started the company from his home in 1991. Since then he’s expanded his business to more than 35 college-degreed engineers. Patti Engineering has engineering offices in Auburn Hills, MI, Austin, TX, and Indianapolis, IN.