Eric Leonhardt

Associate Professor


Eric Leonhardt is the Director of the Vehicle Research Institute at Western Washington University.  He teaches courses about engines, hybrid vehicles, vehicle design, and alternative fuels.  He led a student team to develop Viking 45 and competed with the two seat vehicle as a finalist in the $10 million Progressive Automotive X Prize.  The team was the only U.S. university remaining in the contest.  He worked to develop a biomethane fueling station that utilizes biogas from a dairy farm anaerobic digester.  Currently he is working with students to develop a lightweight electric utility vehicle.  He has a master’s degree in Automotive Systems Engineering from the  University of Michigan, a degree in Industrial Technology/Vehicle Design from Western and a degree in economics from Whitman College. He has worked for Electronic Data Systems (EDS) for General Motors, including the GM Powertrain, Mid-Size/Luxury Car, and GM Truck divisions. He provided lean manufacturing consulting and implementation services.  He also performed manufacturing simulation work, which involves modeling future factories using computer tools to help analyze how the manufacturing lines and equipment should be configured. Leonhardt has also worked for DaimlerChrysler in a research and development organization to develop better engine and transmission design tools.

Educational & Professional Experience

•MS Automotive Systems Engineering, University of Michigan

•BS Industrial Technology Vehicle Design, Western Washington University

•BA, Economics, Whitman College

  • Manufacturing Consultant, Electronic Data Systems (EDS)
    • Lean Manufacturing
    • Virtual Manufacturing
    • General Motors Powertrain, Midsize and Luxury Car Division, GM Truck
  • DaimlerChrysler, Computer Aided "X" Research and Development
    • Virtual product development for engines and transmissions
    • CATIA V5 manufacturing planning tools

Research Interests

Renewable Natural Gas from Dairy Production

Hybrid Electric Drivetrains

Composites Vehicle Structures

High Performance Piston Engines

Selected Awards & Honors

2006 Best Speak --Vehicles and Alternative Fuels Conference (VAFSEP), Dublin, Ireland

2007 EPA P3 -- People Prosperity and Planet Phase I and II Award (Biomethane)

2007 Brilliant Innovation Award -- Athena Institute (Biomethane)

2010 Congressional Record for Viking 45 X Prize accomplishments