PULLMAN, Wash. — Edmund O. Schweitzer, founder of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Inc. in Pullman, received Washington State University’s Alumni Achievement Award March 16 at a company luncheon at SEL. He was cited for “his support of the Pullman community, WSU and his profession.”
In 1982, Schweitzer founded SEL. Today, the employee-owned company located at the Port of Whitman County Industrial Park has some 540 employees worldwide, including nearly 500 in Pullman. The company also has 24 domestic offices and international offices in the United Kingdom, People’s Republic of China, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico. Schweitzer and other SEL engineers hold nearly 40 patents.
SEL develops and manufactures digital protective relays, which identify, analyze and respond in milliseconds to abnormal conditions on power lines or in electrical equipment.
Schweitzer earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Purdue University and completed his doctorate at WSU in 1977. He joined the WSU faculty in 1979, started SEL in the basement of his Pullman home and in 1982 left the university to devote full time to developing his company. SEL sold its first protective relays in the spring of 1984. SEL manufactures all products on its 40-acre site in Pullman.
Schweitzer is recognized as a pioneer in the digital protection field and personally holds around a dozen patents pertaining to electrical power system protection, metering, monitoring and control. He also is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a title bestowed on less than 2 percent of IEEE’s roughly 300,000 members.
SEL is listed among WSU Benefactors with generous giving to the university. Schweitzer served as a WSU Foundation trustee from 1990-96 and is a member of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Advisory Board at WSU.
He and his wife, Mary, have been generous donors to the Pullman School District and to the community, including a donation of $2.6 million to build a new indoor Pullman Aquatic Center that opened in 2000 near Pullman High School.
Two of the Schweitzers’ three children are enrolled at WSU. Their daughter, Stephanie, completed a bachelor’s degree in economics last December and is continuing course work at WSU. Their son, Eddie, is a WSU sophomore in mechanical engineering. Another son, Paul, is a PHS junior.