The Caterpillar Foundation, based in Peoria, Ill., has pledged $850,000 over five years to support several engineering education programs and initiatives, the university announced today.
The foundation is the philanthropic arm of Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc., a leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, and industrial gas turbines. Caterpillar is also a top employer of UMR graduates.
The $850,000 gift will provide support for a variety of programs, including:
- The UMR Minority Engineering and Science Program, which provides comprehensive academic, social and financial support to African American, Native American and Hispanic American students who are interested in pursuing a degree in engineering, science or computing. The program, one of the oldest in the nation, was established in 1974.
- The UMR Student Design and Experiential Learning Center. The center, established in 2000, is the umbrella organization for many of the university’s nationally recognized engineering design teams.
- Coursework development for the UMR School of Engineering. The funds will support curriculum development in Six Sigma, a process for continuous improvement of everything from manufacturing to management.
Caterpillar’s gift will also help fund scholarships, the metallurgical engineering program in the department of material science and engineering, the factory automation controls program in the department of electrical and computer engineering, and development programs in mechanical, mining, electrical and computer, and materials engineering.
UMR works to keep its curriculum current to meet the needs of Caterpillar and other industry leaders, says Dr. Robert Mitchell, dean of the School of Engineering.
“Our students not only learn the latest technical approaches, but also learn to communicate, work in multi-disciplinary teams, understand the global context in which they work, and keep on learning,” Mitchell says. “The partnership between Caterpillar and UMR helps prepare UMR for the challenges of working in world-class technical environments.”
In addition to the five-year gift, the Caterpillar Foundation is donating equipment and funding for the Mechatronics Lab in Toomey Hall, which houses UMR’s mechanical and aerospace engineering programs. The lab will combine mechanical, electronic and software engineering disciplines to study methods of controlling advanced hybrid-systems.
“UMR has enjoyed a productive research relationship with Caterpillar over many years,” says Dr. Wayne Huebner, vice provost for research and sponsored programs at UMR. “Great examples include the development of structurally integrated coatings for wear and corrosion and a CAT Technical Center short course on understanding and interpreting the microstructures of steel.”
Such activities helped facilitate an April 2005 agreement between Caterpillar and UMR to establish a CAT Visiting Scientist Program. The program will provide access to office space, lab facilities and computer connections for Caterpillar staff visiting the UMR campus.
Caterpillar has also joined the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center on Intelligent Maintenance Systems through the UMR site.
“UMR will develop intelligent, sensor-based decision-making agents with wireless communication technologies,” says Dr. Ming Leu, the Keith and Pat Bailey Missouri Distinguished Professor of Integrated Product Manufacturing at UMR and director of UMR’s Intelligent Systems Center. “When deployed in complex systems as monitoring, diagnostic and prognostic tools, these technologies will result in improved system performance, minimal unscheduled downtime, and reduced maintenance and operating costs.”