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Memorial scholarship commemorates engineering mentor

Students working on Vehicle parts

In celebration of an entrepreneur who had a passion for mentoring students and an appetite for innovation, a memorial scholarship will support students at the forefront of electric vehicle research.

The Dr. Voiko Loukanov Engineering Scholarship has been established at the University of Windsor by D&V Electronics in honour of its founder, who has guided many engineering students in research projects to develop advanced technologies.   

Dr. Loukanov was an entrepreneur who led D&V Electronics in pioneering and developing scientific testing technologies and expanded the test equipment company’s reach to thousands of customers in more than 90 countries.

In addition to taking co-op students under his wing, Loukanov spent more than a decade advancing electric vehicle research with Dr. Narayan Kar, a UWindsor prof who leads the Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy (CHARGE) Lab. D&V continues to work closely with Kar and is developing cutting-edge testing methods for electric motors in collaboration with UWindsor and Ford Motor Company on a $4.3 million project.

“Voiko was a firm believer in the importance of investing in education and research. He truly believed that engineers would change the world. He loved to mentor students,” says his wife Kalina Loukanov, executive vice president of D&V Electronics.

“Forward thinking industries require a steady stream of talented innovators and engineers. That’s why he always believed in the young generation; in mentoring them and inspiring them — the next generation of engineers.”

Loukanov started his career as an engineering professor in Bulgaria. He was a beloved professor and researcher. Teaching was his passion, Kalina says. He and his family moved to Canada in 1994 and less than three years later, he was running his own business. When he passed away suddenly in 2016, Kalina says there was an outpouring from D&V employees, including one colleague who told her they had “lost their father.”

D&V’s team of approximately 150 employees is a tight-knit group that designs and manufactures performance, endurance and production systems for the advanced testing of electric and hybrid vehicle motors, inverters, batteries and E-axles. The company has automotive clients across the globe.

“My husband deeply cared for and respected all D&V employees.”

When D&V opened a new facility in 2003 on the outskirts of Woodbridge that wasn’t easily accessible by public transit, Loukanov arranged for employee transportation. 

“Even though D&V has moved ownership, we try to preserve the same culture of innovation that Voiko established when he was here,” says Bill Hardy, D&V’s CEO. 

“A culture with the highest degree of engineering standards and a caring, customer-focused workplace.”

Hardy says the company is known for giving engineering grads a high degree of responsibility and accountability in the company.

Brad Sato BASc ’19, the first recipient of the scholarship, is a research intern in the CHARGE Lab who completed a co-op placement at D&V, which he says was a highlight of his undergrad experience. 

“The one thing that stood out to me the most was the quality of people employed there, not just in terms of intellect but also in character,” Sato says. 

“Through my time there I was able to work with state-of-the-art technologies and witness first-hand the applications of the many things I learned in my classes. Collaborating with the brilliant minds and working with the advanced technologies at D&V were some of the driving forces that inspired me to pursue a post-graduate degree working with electric machines.” 

Loukanov took the company in new directions when he ventured into electric vehicle and powertrain test systems for R&D and production, including the aftermarket, Hardy says.

“It’s a nice space to be in. Serving the cleanliness of our air and environment.” 

The company has extended its innovative designs into an alternator and starter system tester used in auto parts stores. Most test companies mainly work with researchers and engineers, but “very few cover the full life cycle like we are now — R&D, production and aftermarket.”

In honor of Loukanov’s longstanding commitment to research collaborations and student mentorship with the University of Windsor, D&V Electronics has gifted $125,000 to establish the Dr. Voiko Loukanov Engineering Scholarship endowment. An annual award of $5,000 will be given to an engineering graduate student or exceptional undergraduate student in excellent academic standing who is contributing to electric vehicle research at UWindsor’s CHARGE lab.

Kalina says the scholarship will celebrate her husband’s legacy of innovation and generosity.

“Voiko left a lasting impact on those who were fortunate to cross his path,” she says. “His love, kindness, generosity and gratitude truly reflected his inspiring soul.” 

This article was featured in the latest issue of WE, the Faculty of Engineering’s annual magazine.

WE is distributed annually to alumni, students, faculty, staff and industrial/community partners of the faculty. If you would like to receive WE electronically and UWindsor Engineering’s quarterly e-newsletters, join the faculty’s mailing list.