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'68 Classmates Having a Big Impact

Vancouver, B.C., Canada - Mike Gallagher and Lee Grogg are classmates from 1968. Both have made a career in very different fields, but both have had significant impact in their chosen fields.

Gallagher is the President and Chief Operating Officer for Westport Innovations in Vancouver. The company is doing fascinating research and production in the area of heavy engines. They're working with Cummins to produce large vehicle engines which run on natural gas instead of diesel. The benefits are lower cost and lower emissions.

The company seems to have an unlimited future. They are looking for new ventures all the time. They have a deal now with Kenwood to build trucks to try to increase their fleet. The Cummins partnership even includes offices in the Westport headquarters near the Vancouver airport.

I toured the research lab where they test the engines. It was interesting to see how the natural gas fuels the Cummins engine. The modifications are rather small, but certainly not simple. A†very small amount of diesel is used with the modified trucks to allow the natural gas to fire the engine.

Gallagher's office is simple but with a beautiful view of the river running along the airport and the mountains in the distance. It's decorated with photos of family and pictures of Mike receiving many of the awards Westport has garnered the last few years.

The world is watching Westport's work. China is already a customer. The company wants to increase the size of the fleet to lower production costs, then the future is almost unlimited with large engines.

Grogg spent most of his career in northern Indiana and building a small community health center to a major social service agency in the Portage region.

He's now the Executive Director of the Ryther Child Center on Seattle's north side. The center is a residential†home for children. Many have mental health issues, have been abandoned, or abused.

Lee gave me a walking tour of the small campus. They deal with younger children mostly, with the exception of one program for teen boys.

He visits a cottage a month to hear directly from the residents and hear their concerns. He instituted programs to give the kids a chance at plenty of physical activity.

The center was started over 100 years ago by a women's group as an orphanage. Today they are serving Seattle's children with Lee's compassionate leadership making a difference in many lives.