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Alumni Spotlight: David Eilken '17 - From UE Graduate to Pioneering EV Battery Engineer

Posted: Monday, December 11, 2023

David Eilken, a 2017 graduate of the University of Evansville (UE), never imagined his career would lead him into the exciting and innovative world of electric vehicle (EV) battery design and implementation. As a mechanical engineering graduate, his journey into this dynamic field was shaped by his time at UE and the valuable connections it provided.

David's adventure began during his college years when he embarked on co-op opportunities with Toyota, a decision that would set the course for his career. Reflecting on his time at UE, David emphasized the importance of the connections he made: "The connections UE provided really allowed me to get hands-on experience early on in my college career, and it set me up for success."

Originally from St. Charles, Illinois, David was drawn to UE for personal reasons, including his high school sweetheart, who was looking for a Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The university's welcoming atmosphere and the fact that his now wife had family in Henderson, Kentucky, played a significant role in his decision. David noted that, especially after attending other larger flagship institutions for post graduate studies, his time at UE was "by far the best experience I've had."

One of the key factors that made UE stand out for David was the small class sizes and the open-door policy of professors in the engineering department. This allowed him to delve deep into various topics, gaining a fundamental understanding that has proven invaluable in his career. He highlighted how UE not only provided a strong foundation in engineering but also taught practical skills, business acumen, and project and schedule management – all of which have been a huge advantage in his professional journey.

After living in Ann Arbor for several years, David has now found himself in Japan for the last four-months. In a world where electrification in cars is a hot topic, he worked with Toyota's North America R&D headquarters group on battery electric vehicle design. He is one of the first members of this group to work in Japan, and his role is to absorb as much knowledge as possible and contribute to the growth of their battery operations. As a Senior Engineer for Battery Design, his responsibilities are broad and interdisciplinary, covering everything from developing battery packs for multiple fully electrified vehicles to addressing thermal issues and working with the sales team to ensure batteries meet customer expectations.

David's passion for experiencing different cultures and his ability to adapt to various environments are a testament to the cultural diversity that UE encouraged during his studies. Study abroad programs like Harlaxton, UE’s Victorian style manor, and the comprehensive curriculum helped him understand the diverse needs of various communities and the importance of cultural awareness in the real world.

David Eilken's journey from a UE graduate to a senior engineer in the cutting-edge field of EV battery design at Toyota exemplifies the exceptional opportunities and education offered by the University of Evansville. His success story is not only a reflection of his personal dedication but also of the university's commitment to fostering well-rounded, adaptable, and globally aware graduates.

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