Legacy of Action:
Dr. William R. Shapton
Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering
A native of Lansing, Michigan, Dr. Shapton earned his B.S. and M.S. Degrees from Michigan State University and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati.
After a year with Bendix Corporation as a systems engineer her began his career in higher education by joining the faculty of the University of Cincinnati in 1965. He was promoted from instructor to assistant professor in 1968 and in 1974 he was elevated to the rank of associate professor.
In 1979 he left Cincinnati to accept a position as associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech where he was promoted to full professor in 1981. He was the director of the design focus area in the Mechanical Engineering - Engineering Mechanics department.
He was chairman of the College of Engineering Centennial Committee that planned the college’s activities and events during the 1986 Centennial celebration. He organized the Frontiers in Engineering lecture series that brought a host of nationally known speakers from government and industry to the campus that year. He served as president of the University Senate.
He is recognized as the “father” of the SAE International Mini Baja series of student competitions that now annually involve more than 150 university teams. He started the mini baja as a student designed vehicle and race competition that originally brought 50 vehicles along with their team members and faculty advisors to a “Copper Country Baja” in 1986. The “winter Baja’ competition is now held in February in Lake Linden, Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Tech “Blizzard” Mini Baja team.
Shapton sponsored an award winning booth promoting Michigan Tech at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International Exposition and Congress in Detroit that was visited by 30,000 engineers. He also coordinated the university’s first entry into the one Lap of America road rally in 1987. He has served as a control captain and fast sweep for the Press On Regardless (POR) rally held annually in the Copper Country. Over the years the Michigan Tech student chapter has provided marshals for the POR, giving it a reputation as the best run road rally in America.
In 1987 Dr. Shapton earned the Clair M. Donovan Award for outstanding service to the University in nonacademic activities. The award is made by the Michigan Tech chapter of the Blue Key National Honor Fraternity, in honor of Clair M. Donovan, a Michigan Tech alumnus, and former national president of Blue Key.
Dr. Shapton received the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International Medal of Honor in 1989. This award, established in 1986, recognizes and honors a living SAE member for unique and significant contributions to SAE which strengthen or add to SAE's ability to further its purpose. The significance of such contribution(s) shall have been tested over time and shall be regarded as a major factor in SAE's success. Unlike other SAE awards that honor technical achievements or outstanding accomplishments in the various fields of mobility engineering, this award recognizes an individual's contributions to the overall SAE organization. The award consists of a bronze medal and is presented at the SAE World Congress.
Dr. Shapton received the Society of Experimental Mechanics (SEM) 2006 DeMichele Award recognizing 'exemplary service and support in promoting the science and educational aspects of modal analysis technology' on February 1, 2006 at the IMAC XXIV Conference in St. Louis MO.