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WSU announces $5M gift for engineering hub

Oct. 28, 2022 Updated Fri., Oct. 28, 2022 at 8:09 p.m.

By Emily Pearce Moscow-Pullman Daily News

It’s a day of Cougar pride – more than 100 voices echoed in the CUB building as they chanted “Go Cougs!” this Thursday after a major gift to Washington State University was announced, with the WSU Cougar Marching Band kicked off the celebration by playing the University’s fight song, proudly showing school spirit.

WSU President Kirk Schulz announced a $5 million investment from The Boeing Company to fund the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture program. The gift will be used to create a new student success center, benefiting the college’s 4,600 students, according to a news release. The established Boeing Center for Student Success will take up an entire floor on the college’s Schweitzer Engineering Hall, and will provide resources including mentoring, tutoring, advising and career services.

“Through this latest gift we are thrilled to be able to contribute to the education of incoming engineers,” said Bill McSherry, Boeing vice president of state and local government operations. “We know the engineering facility will ensure they have the tools they need to be successful in whatever endeavor they choose.”

The Boeing Company is a Washington-based aerospace business that develops, manufactures and services commercial airlines, defense products and space systems, according to their website. The company is a top U.S. exporter, supplying systems to more than 150 countries globally.

WSU and Boeing have a long history of working together – the company is the largest corporate supporter of the university and has donated nearly $30 million to the institution, according to the news release. Their long partnership spans nearly 60 years as the company continues to be the leading employer of Voiland College graduates, and invests in academic and research endeavors.

“We have such a tight relationship with the university,” said Craig Bomben, Boeing vice president of flight operations and chief test pilot. “When I look at what the university is doing and I’ve got to go justify funding, I can prove the money invested is going to be money well spent.”

The student success center will provide a physical location for an abundance of support Boeing has provided the university over the years. Voiland College engineering students can benefit from the Boeing Scholars program, which provides real-world experience in problem solving by performing a senior capstone and other classroom projects, according to the release. Students may also benefit from the Boeing Mentorship Program, which matches students with Boeing employees to provide guidance in aerospace careers.

“The student success building opens further opportunities for the continued modernization of the entire engineering and architecture precinct on our campus,” said Mary Rezac, WSU dean of Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. “It ensures that the learning and research environments we have as a community continue to meet the needs of our students.”

Boeing has also provided funding directly to students at Voiland College. Rezac said for the last several years, Boeing has provided financial support to ensure freshman engineering courses meet the needs of students. Within the college, more than a third of the students need financial assistance in order to pay for the engineering programs. The company has helped pave the way for young engineers, and Rezac said first year retention rates for students in the engineering program has increased more than 10% over the past several years.

“Boeing understands that in order to continue to produce outstanding graduates, we need to invest in state-of-the-art facilities that are designed to meet the students of today in the workforce of tomorrow,” Rezac said. “Tens of thousands of WSU students will continue to benefit in years to come.”

For more information about the Boeing Center for Student Success, visit the Voiland College’s webpage at vcea.wsu.edu.

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