Alumnus Erroll Eaton Helps Design the Next Generation of Energy Efficient Ventilation Systems

Heating and cooling ventilation systems have come a long way since the first industrial air conditioner was installed in a Brooklyn printing house in 1902 to help dry the ink. Today, sophisticated climate control systems are a standard feature of indoor life. And the desire for better technology and products and more efficient systems continues to drive the industry.

For Erroll Eaton ’93, ’95, ’99, senior staff engineer in the Applied Research Department at Lennox International, innovation is at the heart of his work. As Eaton explains, “my job is two-fold: to design, develop and introduce new concepts into an existing product portfolio and to assist product development engineers on technical matters associated with the next generation of products.”

Eaton joined the Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) giant in January of this year. Before that, he spent a total of eight years working in the automotive industry, most recently as a climate control engineer with Ford Motor Company. Prior to that Eaton was with Delphi Corporation as a Climate Control NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) engineer and worked in air handling engineering where he developed a patented blower with improved efficiency and NVH characteristics. Eaton arrived at Lennox well-versed in airflow design and development for HVAC systems. “I bring with me the skills and knowledge to provide technological advances in the area of system efficiency.”

System efficiency has never been more important than it is today. This is in large part because like other industries, the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration industry is highly competitive and faces serious energy challenges. “Our industry challenges are not unlike others involved in the world of product development,” explains Eaton. “These challenges require that we deliver products with great quality, reliability and technological advancements that minimize energy consumption. That means developing products that consume less energy than their predecessors.”

The company’s continued commitment to energy efficiency and manufacturing energy efficient products has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with its ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year award four times.

Eaton’s own expertise is in the area of fluid mechanics and turbulence. He received his Ph.D. in fluid dynamics from Clarkson in 1999, his research focusing on experimental turbulence and co-published four papers with his doctoral advisor. He also holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering (1993) and a master’s in fluid dynamics (1995) from Clarkson. Eaton says he originally chose Clarkson because of a scholarship offered through the Clarkson-Xerox Scholarship Program.

“My first year at Clarkson was a significant change in culture and atmosphere,” Eaton recalls. “But as the years passed I became more drawn toward the external beauty of the Adirondack area and the proximity of two major Canadian cities helped. I ended up staying for 10 years.”

Eaton took on a leadership role outside the classroom, serving as co-founder of SPECTRUMM and the NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) chapter at Clarkson, as well as the Diversity Alliance Group (DAG), which focused on the concerns of African Americans, Women and Gays on the Clarkson campus. Eaton was also involved in founding a local colony of Kappa Alpha Psi International Fraternity, the first African-American fraternity at Clarkson.

“I attribute my leadership skills to the extraordinary talent of individuals I associated myself with at Clarkson,” he says. “Being members of underrepresented groups on campus caused many of us to consider our role in society at large. We worked to provide an understanding of different cultures. In my view, a measure of understanding is always a good start for acceptance. This philosophy has served as the building block for my professional career as well.”

Today, Eaton serves on the Coulter School of Engineering Advisory Council in part because he wants to ensure the “next generation of Clarkson engineers has a firm grasp of engineering fundamentals early in their education.” “Having hands-on experiences — whether in the classroom or through industry co-ops and internships — reinforces the fundamentals and lays the foundation for the specific coursework that comes later in college after a specific engineering career path has been chosen,” he says.

Based on his own experiences he adds, “It is also the key to professional success.”