Engineering receives $25 million donation

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Using a $25 million donation given by an anonymous donor, the College of Engineering has ambitious plans to remake its "heart, soul and body," according to Engineering Dean Stanley Jaskolski.

The contribution is part of a larger campaign for the college to remake its curriculum, endow more faculty chairs and remake its facilities.,”

Using a $25 million donation given by an anonymous donor, the College of Engineering has ambitious plans to remake its "heart, soul and body," according to College of Engineering Dean Stanley Jaskolski.

The contribution, which Jaskolski said "plants seeds" for inspiring others to donate to the college, is part of a larger campaign for the college to revamp its curriculum, endow more faculty chairs and remake its facilities.

"Any monies coming into the college are targeted to one of those areas," Jaskolski said.

The largest segment of the campaign is $100 million to renovate and expand the engineering facilities – which Jaskolski called the "body" of the college – in a new "Discovery Learning Tower." According to Julie Tolan, vice president of university advancement, most of the anonymous donor's contribution will likely go to a new building.

Jaskolski said he also hoped to set aside $32 million for scholarships and $35 million for seven faculty endowments when the college would celebrate its 100th anniversary in the 2008-'09 school year.

Another important segment of the transformation of the college is the ongoing reformation of the engineering curriculum. For example, freshman courses are being remodeled to offer more "real world" experience earlier in an academic career, according to Joseph Schimmels, professor of mechanical engineering.

The freshman course, which was implemented two years ago, "is a synopsis of what it means to be an engineer," Schimmels said.

To that end, the course gives students a challenge, such as designing a toy for middle school students that would teach physics principles, and has them use engineering skills to complete the challenge.

Another change is made in senior level courses. Over the last several years, a shift has been made in capstone courses to include more relevant topics and work more as a professional engineer would, according to Jay Goldberg, associate professor of biomedical engineering and director of Health Care Technologies Management.

Another way the college is attempting change its approach to teaching includes faculty such as the college's Robert C. Greenheck Chair in Engineering Design, which the college expects to have filled for next school year. This person and other faculty will help students examine open-ended problems, which may have more than one correct approach, Jaskolski said.

The donation, which was announced in December, also may include an annual donation of $1 million in the case, according to a university press release, that the donation helps to "transform" the college.

It is also the latest in a series of large donations to the university. In 2005, the university announced a $28 million donation to the College of Communication given by alumnus William Diederich and his wife, Mary; in 2004, the university received an $18 million donation from longtime benefactor Helen Way Klingler, who had passed away earlier that year.

The university also has an endowment with a value of $301.2 million as of June 30, 2006, according to Brigid O'Brien Miller, director of university communication. This number includes the Klingler donation. The donation to the College of Engineering and the Diederich donation are handled separately from the endowment, Tolan said.

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