“Working with the Business Engagement Center, Axalta was able to connect with U-M students in a collaborative, mutually beneficial way. The coatings industry is complex, and together we worked to show students how their skills can transfer to the paint business.”
–David Fischer, Axalta vice president for market strategy and growth (B.S. ’80, MBA ’89)

How engineering, chemistry and business excellence transfers to both NASCAR and the coatings industry is one conversation many University of Michigan students did not expect to be a part of. But through the facilitation of U-M’s Business Engagement Center, 36 students had the opportunity to see first-hand how their studies apply to racing during the Pure Michigan 400 race weekend, August 26th and 27th.

As guests of Axalta Coating Systems, U-M students participated in an engineering and sports management career panel featuring leaders from Axalta, NASCAR, Michigan International Speedway and the Motor Racing Network; attended a networking dinner with company executives, NASCAR driver Alex Bowman and Ray Evernham, former crew chief for Jeff Gordon and host of AmeriCarna; and received garage and pit tours. The weekend culminated with the debut of the University of Michigan-branded No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS race car driven by Bowman.

“This was a great opportunity for our students to see the amount of engineering and the levels of teamwork that go into race events, said Chris Gordon, manager of the Walter E. Wilson Student Team Project Center at U-M. “The discussions with Axalta, NASCAR and MIS could have gone on all night.”

The weekend served as the official launch of a new, multi-year research and recruiting relationship between Axalta and the University of Michigan.

“Every day, the engineering excellence that is essential to racing transfers almost seamlessly into practical applications for the coatings industry,” said Steve Markevich (B.B.A. ‘82), Axalta executive vice president and president of transportation coatings and Greater China. “Our partnership with the University of Michigan, one of the premier learning institutions in the world, benefits both current and future students and faculty.”

Companies interested in learning more about student recruitment, research funding or building their brand on campus should contact the Business Engagement Center.


Pure Michigan 400: Pre-Race Activities Photo Gallery


Pure Michigan 400: Race Day Photo Gallery