July 21, 2023

Ongoing Partnership with the University of Minnesota


The first of its kind program celebrates second solar vehicle unveiling and pairs real-world application with electrification certification, helping fulfill current and future job market needs within engineering and electrification fields.

MINNEAPOLIS, July 21, 2023Thermo King, a strategic brand of global climate innovator Trane Technologies (NYSE: TT), is proud of its longstanding partnership with the University of Minnesota (UMN) and excited to continue creating educational opportunities within engineering and electrification disciplines. Two key components include the ongoing sponsorship of the UMN Solar Vehicle Project (UMNSVP), which was celebrated at Thermo King’s Bloomington headquarters on July 18 with the unveiling of a solar racing car, and the launching of the nation’s first graduate-level certificate in electrification engineering in conjunction with the UMN’s Technological Leadership Institute (TLI) earlier this year.

“A strong workforce is key to the continued development of sustainable, future-focused technology, an area Thermo King is committed to leading within the transportation industry. Inspiring and educating the next generation is key to meeting the demand for innovative solutions in areas like electrification and green power sources of energy,” said Aftab Khan, vice president of engineering and technology for Thermo King Americas. “We are fortunate to have such a strong partnership with the UMN to nurture the incredible growth opportunities in these areas with new, upcoming talent and upskilling our current workforce.”

UMN Solar Vehicle Project Partnership

In its second year of sponsorship, Thermo King has provided the UMN solar car team with advisory, financial and materials support to build solar-powered race cars. The team celebrated the completion of its brand-new car, Gaia, at Thermo King’s Bloomington, MN, headquarters on July 18. All employees and UMN Co-op students were invited to view the car up close, learn about the engineering behind the innovation, and see it in action during a drive-around in the parking lot.

Through the experience of building the Solar Car, students learn how to apply engineering theory in the real-world, obtaining valuable experience and knowledge to apply to the workforce. “This partnership helps build relationships and recruitment opportunities while instilling key engineering principles and problem-solving,” said Greg Nash, senior engineer with Thermo King, a 2014 alumnus of the UMN solar vehicle team and a mentor to the seven UMN solar vehicle project team members currently working at Thermo King as interns or through a cooperative program.

In 2022, the team’s car, Freya, competed in – and won – the multi-occupant class of the American Solar Challenge, which consisted of a 1400 mile race from Independence, MO to Twin Falls, ID. This year, the team will be racing Gaia in the October World Solar Challenge in Australia where they will compete against teams from around the world throughout the nearly 2000 mile course.

Electrification Engineering Certification Course

The new program will train engineers to convert fossil-fuel power-based systems to electrified power-based systems. This is an important step in helping move the nation, and the world, to green power sources like hybrid or all-electric through education. Available to UMN students in fall 2023, Thermo King is a founding member of the Center for Electrification Opportunity (CEO), which aims to help develop jobs for the next several decades, addressing the current and future needs in the job market related to engineering and electrification.

The UMN partnership investments are part of Thermo King’s strategic commitments in electrification and attracting and retaining top talent, and support the company’s 2030 goals aimed at creating a decarbonized future.