Donald A. Coates

For his record of achievement and contributions to computer aided design and manufacturing methods, the Purdue University Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to Donald A. Coats.

Vice President, Product Assurance
Speed Queen Company
MSME '66, PhD '70,


From his Purdue years to present

Dr. Coates came to Purdue after receiving his bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. After completing his PhD degree, he joined the Research and Engineering Center of Whirlpool Corporation as a research engineer, where he was responsible for the development and application of computer simulations of refrigeration compressors. He later became senior research engineer as well as manager of Engineering Computer Services and Quality Planning. In 1983, Dr. Coates accepted and offer from Speed Queen to become director of Engineering, and was named vice president of Engineering a year later. In his current position, which he has held since the beginning of 1990, Dr. Coates is responsible for Speed Queen's quality control, reliability, and product quality assurance programs, as well as for setting the overall quality objectives for the company.

  • "One thing that always impressed me about Purdue was that we were provided with a very supportive environment," says Dr. Coates. "It was a climate that prepared us well for industry."

  • "For example, I have really come to appreciate the concept behind the Herrick Laboratories. It was a great experience to attack real industrial problems in an educational environment.

  • "It's very important to have an applied education and that's what Purdue provided, very down to earth and devoted to fundamental learning."

His advice to the engineering student:

"Learn how to work in teams, and use your lab experiences to work with other people on real problems. It's also good to try and learn a little about managing. And don't forget to work hard."