Engineering Education

News & notes from the schools and universities around the country

This week, we’re updating our readers on a number of noteworthy developments in the fields of engineering education. These items reflect an ever-important aspect of bridging the skills gap, providing resources for workers in the trades, and helping businesses in associated industries prepare for the future.

University of Chicago to receive $75 million for School of Molecular Engineering. The University of Chicago, one of the country’s top homes for higher education, has surprisingly not instituted a school focused on a particular discipline or field for almost three decades. That changed last Tuesday when the university announced it will open the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. Funded from a substantial donation—the overall commitment is for around $100 million—from the Pritzker family, the new school will be the first of its kind, according to a University of Chicago website.  Molecular engineering involves advances in basic physics, chemistry, biology and computation, which students cultivate into new tools “to address important societal problems and, to create a research and teaching environment to enhance and transmit these capabilities from scientific generation to generation,” per UC’s Pritzker website.

The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering was originally established in 2011 by the University of Chicago in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory as the Institute for Molecular Engineering, but will now reside in its own building and include its own entire scholastic program. The “transformational” academic unit explores the intersection of science and engineering.

J.B. Pritzker is just beginning his term as Illinois governor, an office he gained by running primarily on education reform.

Prestigious award goes to Arkansas senior engineer. Wesley Nimmo, a senior majoring in industrial engineering at the University of Arkansas, was announced as the recipient of a nationally-competitive scholarship award this week. Nimmo was granted the 2019-2020 Myrtle & Earl Walker Scholarship from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation, said a U of A press release June 5, to continue his studies into “promoting efficiency in the business sector.”

Nimmo returned to school after five years of work in the oil and gas industry. He said he chose industrial engineering after witnessing inefficiencies in industry firsthand. “I wanted to be able to take some knowledge back to the industry to improve the work environment for others,” he said.

He is completing an internship with J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. His team is converting reporting into Power BI, a data visualization application, which will centralize and automate data reporting. Wesley said he has found many of his classes have real applications in the work he is doing and he enjoys using what he has learned in the classroom to create real-world solutions.

Omron helps University of Houston engineering students with new design laboratory. The University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering recently unveiled a cutting-edge laboratory donated by the Omron Foundation, the charitable arm of automation solutions provider Omron in the United States. Designed for electrical and computer engineering students, the lab includes advanced technologies and equipment donated by Omron. At the lab’s opening ceremony, UH faculty and Omron representatives looked at a variety of senior capstone projects, including a sorting robot and a mobile robotic billboard. The lab contains an area dedicated to senior design projects, which provides real world design experience, which is helpful for gaining employment after graduation.

“Prospective employers will expect them to speak intelligently about what they worked on for their design project so the experience they gain at this stage is very important,” says Len Trombetta, the associate department chair. “This makes our graduates very marketable because these are skills companies want. We’re grateful to Omron for making this possible.”

Omron Foundation has been supporting the Cullen College’s electrical and computer engineering students since 2010, when it established the Omron Scholarship in electrical engineering and sponsored a team of students applying their engineering knowledge to real-world industry problems in the Capstone Design course. Omron also provides one-on-one mentoring to UH engineering students.

Established in 1933, OMRON has about 36,000 employees worldwide, working to provide products and services in 117 countries. The company’s business fields cover a broad spectrum, ranging from industrial automation and electronic components to automotive electronics, social infrastructure systems, healthcare, and environmental solutions.

UCLA Samueli receives largest donation ever. The UCLA Samueli School of Engineering has received its largest gift ever: $100 million from longtime supporters Henry and Susan Samueli, the institution announced in a June 4 press release. The gift, made through the Samueli Foundation, will be used to spur the engineering school’s planned expansion, which is to continue well into the next decade and is its most significant growth since the school was founded in 1945.

UCLA Samueli plans to enroll at least 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students by 2028, up from 5,300 at the start of the expansion in 2016. The school will also seek to add approximately 100 professors over the same period of time for a roster of nearly 250. New faculty will be in emerging research areas, such as engineering in medicine, quantum technologies, and sustainable and resilient urban systems.

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