- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 3, 2014

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Everyone knows him as Doc K.

His enthusiasm for students and new ideas is felt throughout the Kettering University community, as it should be. Because come July 8, mechanical engineering professor Henry Kowalski will celebrate 50 years at the university.

“If I had to do it all over again I’d do the same thing. It’s been a great ride,” Kowalski, 78, told The Flint Journal ( http://bit.ly/1jMgWjT ). “It’s been a great ride.”

He started at Kettering University in 1964 when it was still known as General Motors Institute. Before that he taught at Wayne State University, where he graduated with a degree in engineering that initially landed him a job at an aircraft manufacturing company.

Teaching was always in his nature, he said. And there’s something special about Kettering and its students. That’s what has kept him at the university for so long.

He’s taught thousands of students throughout the years, maybe close to 10,000. And he’s been at the university through five different university presidents.

Kowalski was recently honored for his time at the university during Kettering’s Homecoming events. He joins a small group of professors that were honored for such a long term at the university. Professor Reg Bell was honored last year for teaching 200 consecutive terms.

Kowalski still remembers his first class when a student raised his hand during the lesson and told him, “Sir, we don’t do it that way at Chevrolet.”

“I knew (Kettering students) were different right then and there,” said Kowalski, adding that they were focused, pragmatic and respectful. “I figured this is a place I want to be. … It’s been all about the students.”

Outside of his time in the classroom, Kowalski is the faculty adviser for Kettering’s FIRST robotics team. In fact, he helped start the team Metal Muscle roughly a decade ago. And then a few years late he sought out scholarship funds to allow more high schools to get involved.

He is also a faculty adviser for the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority.

Mackenzie Stratton, a junior at Kettering, has gotten to know Kowalski during her time in Alpha Sigma Alpha and as a FIRST mentor, as well as one of his students.

“Doc K is just a great person in general. He is always there for his students no matter what,” said Stratton, 21, of Burton. “He thinks that Kettering students are the best students in the world. He is just selfless.”

Whether it’s through extra tutoring or just mentoring students, Stratton said Kowalski is willing to go the extra step to help student succeed.

In class he helps students understand how information will be applied outside of class and he knows how to keep students engaged, Stratton said.

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