SOUTHFIELD — The academic year may have just begun, but this has already been a year to remember at Lawrence Technological University.
“This is a very exciting time to be at Lawrence Tech because several significant gifts are making it possible to move ahead on several of our major long-term priorities,” said Stephen Brown, vice president of university advancement. “This has already been Lawrence Tech’s best year for fundraising.”
In August, it was announced that LTU had received the largest cash gift in the university’s 81-year history: a gift of $20 million from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
“This is a transformational contribution that provides Lawrence Tech an unprecedented opportunity to advance several long-term goals at the same time,” LTU President Virinder Moudgil said. “The university has plans in place for exciting new educational initiatives and can now move ahead to enhance its leadership position in delivering cutting-edge education in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Brown said STEM education has been “part of the university’s DNA since its founding.”
This spring, LTU unveiled preliminary plans for the 125,000-square-foot A. Alfred Taubman Engineering, Life Sciences and Architecture Complex that is expected to cost $55 million. Construction is expected to start next year, and a portion of the gift will help provide new learning facilities in that building, as well as aid in a match challenge for the complex.
The gift will also be used to help fund a new Dr. Richard E. Marburger STEM Center, which will support existing STEM programs at LTU and introduce new programs centering around educational areas like sustainable design, simulation and visualization, and “green” chemistry.
The STEM Center will be housed inside the complex and will be named after the university’s fourth president, in office from 1977-1993.
Marburger remains active on campus as he approaches his 50th anniversary of service to the university.
Lastly, a significant portion of the $20 million gift will also go toward need-based scholarships to help make education at LTU more accessible.
The gift was solicited through the “Proud Heritage, Bold Future” capital campaign, which aims to reach $100 million. To date, $76 million has been raised since the campaign launched six years ago. It focuses on facilities and infrastructure, endowment and scholarships, and academics and program innovation, according to LTU Spokesman Eric Pope.
This year, LTU also benefited from a $40 million in-kind software grant from Siemens PLM Software, also standing out as an in-kind grant in the university’s history.
This grant gives students access to the same types of technology that global companies use each day in developing innovative products that are engineered and then manufactured in the automotive, aerospace, medical and defense industries.
Assistant Professor Ahad Ali, director of the Smart Manufacturing and Lean Systems Research Group at LTU’s College of Engineering, played a key role in obtaining the Siemens PLM Software grant and explained that three software packages were received.
“By using the same technology in the classroom that is used by companies all over the world to develop a wide variety of products, our students gain important real-world experience during their studies that will serve them well after graduation,” Ali said. “It advances LTU’s theory-and-practice model of education.”
Ali also noted that Lawrence Tech is joining other leading universities that have similar academic partnerships with Siemens PLM Software.
Bill Boswell, senior director of partner strategy for Siemens PLM software, said his company actively promotes education in STEM subjects.
“Siemens PLM Software is dedicated to equipping today’s students with the knowledge and skills necessary to serve the next generation of engineers,” Boswell said in a press release. “Lawrence Tech serves a key role in filling the STEM job skills gap and producing highly qualified future employees.”
Another major gift also contributed to LTU’s record fundraising year: Kresge Foundation awarded a $300,000 grant to the university to consolidate four programs that it already has in Detroit and add additional programs at a new design center in Detroit’s Midtown area.
The LTU Center for Design + Technology will anchor a new commercial building that Midtown Detroit Inc. will build at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Willis Street.
Construction will begin later this year for a three-story commercial building that is scheduled to open in fall 2014.
“Having all LTU’s Detroit projects and academic programming under one roof will provide synergies that will make all of the programs stronger,” said Amy Green Deines, associate dean of LTU’s College of Architecture and Design. “This new prominent location on Woodward Avenue will lead to more opportunities to engage organizations and groups that are working to rebuild and rejuvenate the city.”
The four programs operating in the city are the Detroit Studio, providing design support for neighborhood and community-based projects in Detroit since 1999; detroitSHOP, an urban design studio that has recently started working with Quicken Loans and Bedrock Ventures for projects in the central business district; Studio Couture, storefront student exhibit space on Woodward Avenue downtown; and a satellite classroom space located in Ponyride, a design studio, where an urban miniature golf course was recently designed.
The first phase, of approximately 8,000 square feet, will provide space for these four programs, as well as Studio[ci], an LTU research lab that draws on the expertise of professional architects, urban designers, and civil, mechanical and environmental engineers.
This phase will also implement a K-12 educational outreach program.
The second phase, of approximately 6,000 square feet, will provide space for other LTU programming, such as the makeLab, which provides digital fabrication services for a wide range of design projects.
“We continue to work with professional partners to facilitate positive community change,” Deines said. “We have educated, and will continue to educate, designers and innovators who will change the course of Detroit and the region.”
For more information on philanthropic giving and stewardship at LTU, visit www.ltu.edu/giving.
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