MADISON (WKOW)-- Many experts believe the once thriving manufacturing industry is starting to make a comeback in America. The state of Wisconsin is well known as a leader in manufacturing largely due to the successful College of Engineering on the UW-Madison campus. University officials are hoping that the biggest donation ever to the college will take that notoriety to the next level.
"We have received a commitment of $25 million from the Grainger Foundation," College of Engineering Dean Ian Robertson announced during an event Monday afternoon. "Our goal is that UW-Madison's College of Engineering will be seen as a national and international leader in these new research areas."
The $25 million will go towards creating the Grainger Institute for Engineering Research. The new entity will be housed at Engineering Hall on campus and will feature 25 of the world's top engineering experts. University officials say the money will go towards attracting these top experts who are working on a variety exciting projects.
"The idea is to bring them in, get them started, help them develop. Once they become self sufficient, move them out of the institute so we can move something new in," Robertson says. "The incubator approach gives us the flexibility to identify and rapidly pursue new research directions not just on a one time basis but an ongoing basis."
These experts will work in labs and offices that already exist inside Engineering Hall. This will save the university millions of dollars on building a new facility to house these researchers. University officials say some of the $25 million will go towards creating scholarships for top graduate and doctoral students from around the world.
"High quality faculty will bring in high quality students," Professor of Sustainable Energy Jaal Ghandhi says. "It will work its way out and impact a wide variety of things on campus. We expect to see a big increase in enrollment"
Current professors say the institute will also help the local and national economy by giving students the experience they need to make a difference in Wisconsin's already thriving manufacturing industry.
"Wisconsin has a large manufacturing base and the ties between the university and manufacturing is strong. This will make it even stronger and provide a direct pipeline between students and research and faculty," Professor of Chemical Engineering Tom Kuech says.
UW graduate students were also excited about the announcement. Many had an inkling that the university was about to make a major announcement, but had no idea it would be so significant. University officials will start to recruit new researchers in the coming months. The College of Engineering already houses more than 180 professors and researchers who specialize in a variety of specialties.
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