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Bradley Hilltopics

Summer 2009 • Volume 15, Issue 3  

Alumni Profiles

Forties fellowship group | JOAN SCOTT WALLACE ’52: From academia to ambassador | Brush with the past: JERRY VALLEZ 50 and DON HOLTON 70  | MIKE BETZ ’87 and DAVID NICOLL ’93 team up for the environment at Cat | Obama campaign link — JEFF LINK ’05 | U of I business dean LARRY DeBROCK ’75 | Molly Picon actors on stage | Singer JENNIFER ROSA ’06

Duo teams up for the environment


DAVID NICOLL ’93, left, and MIKE BETZ ’87 are part of a team at Caterpillar developing the D7E, an electric-drive, track-type tractor that earned the Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Excellence Award. The annual honor recognizes innovative efforts to achieve cleaner air.


MIKE BETZ ’87 and DAVID NICOLL ’93 honed very different skills from their educational backgrounds. Yet the Caterpillar employees share a common goal in an innovative project — the D7E.

Betz and Nicoll are working on a project as engineering manager and marketing manager, respectively, that will deliver the industry’s first electric-drive, track-type tractor. “It’s great to work on a project like this where design, manufacturing, and marketing all have to come together to deliver an extraordinary product,” Nicoll said. “It shows how important teamwork is, because Mike and I have very different backgrounds and different expertises, but we’re sitting in the same meetings.”

They do have a similar Bradley educational experience. When they started the D7E project, both enrolled in Bradley’s Management for the 21st Century program, in which DR. AARON BUCHKO, MBA ’83, professor of management and administration, was influential for both. The courses are taught in conjunction with Caterpillar.

Nicoll estimates about 500 Caterpillar employees are intimately involved in the D7E project. The new tractor will save users operating costs while increasing productivity of the machine.

Betz’s role is to oversee the project. “There are other managers of other components that go into this, but I have the whole tractor program,” said Betz, a 20-year Cat employee who lives in Knoxville with his wife and two sons. “I’ve been on the program since the beginning, when we did the early concept work. We did research in the ’90s and developed our strategy for the next 10 years.”

Nicoll is responsible for marketing the new tractor leading up to the late 2009 launch. “The reception we’ve seen from this — I think because of the focus on the environment — has exceeded our expectations,” said Nicoll, who lives in Dunlap with his wife and three sons. “Customers are amazed at how this technology improves the productivity of the machine while reducing operating costs, especially fuel. Those two components are what customers look at.”

The environmental positives are also a Caterpillar priority. The D7E boasts 50 percent less noise and up to 20 percent less fuel consumed per hour, which dramatically reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. “We recognize today that it’s all of our responsibilities to do more for the environment,” Betz said. “Our children will have to live in this environment in the future. We have to protect our resources.”

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