UW-Madison school gets $25 million grant

Morning sunlight shines on Bascom Hall as pedestrians walk across Bascom Hill at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during spring on March 29, 2012.
Morning sunlight shines on Bascom Hall as pedestrians walk across Bascom Hill at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during spring on March 29, 2012. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The Grainger Foundation is giving the University of Wisconsin College of Engineering a $25 million grant to create a new institute.

The goal of the Grainger Institute for Engineering will be to create a more interdisciplinary teaching approach and focus on manufacturing advances to boost the nation’s economic competitiveness, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

The commitment is the largest in the college’s history and will allow them to hire another 25 faculty members, bringing their faculty count to 250.

“This will allow us to make many new discoveries and enhance the university’s reputation as a leader in advancements that solve some of the world’s biggest problems,” said Ian Robertson, dean of the College of Engineering.

The new faculty members will have different backgrounds and will be appointed to two departments. The college’s mission is to create a more transdisciplinary education for the nearly 5,600 undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in the program, as well as future students.

“We’ll be seeking highly creative faculty who are the top people in their fields,” said Renee Meiller, a spokeswoman for the College of Engineering. “Top faculty think to the future and make research advances that have the power to change or impact their fields in dramatic ways. They might, for example, be implemented in new products, improve existing products, help solve a challenge important to society or lead to discoveries in other areas.”

The institute also will act as an incubator, which will allow the college to continuously launch and research new concepts. The goal is to create more self-sustaining research centers.

Robertson said the institute will start with tackling various manufacturing issues, such as consuming fewer materials and energy and producing less waste. This will allow companies to bring new products to the market more quickly and economically, he said.

David Grainger, president and director of the foundation, is a UW-Madison alumnus. He graduated with a degree in engineering in 1950, and Grainger Hall, which houses the School of Business, was named for him. W. W. Grainger, Inc., supplies maintenance, repair and operating products.

Grainger Foundation officials declined to comment.

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