Michigan Engineering News

M-HEAL MESA members in Peru.

Support where it’s needed most

“It’s important to give back to the folks that nurtured you, trusted you, supported you when you were completely unproven.”

You might not know it, but if you attended Michigan Engineering, you probably benefited from gifts to the Michigan Engineering Fund. The most flexible giving fund at the College, it allows for gifts to be allocated at the dean’s discretion to the areas of highest need, supporting student organizations, scholarships and strategic funding priorities for departments and programs. 

The flexibility of this fund is the main reason why Walter B. (Terry) Clark (BSE IOE ‘69), a major donor to the fund for over 25 years, continues to support it.

“I tend to think like a CEO,” said Clark. “So I trust the stewards of the University of Michigan engineering team to know which particular spot within engineering is best to use my donation.”

Clark’s time at Michigan Engineering set him up for a successful career, first in the field of chips and microprocessors and later as the founder of a lighting business whose lights illuminate many buildings on U-M’s campus. As a high school student, he excelled in science and math but struggled with English due to undiagnosed dyslexia. Ultimately, he found his niche at Michigan Engineering.

“I’m very, very grateful that they took a chance on this young kid who had some skill sets but some pretty glaring weaknesses,” said Clark. “It’s important to give back to the folks that nurtured you, trusted you, supported you when you were completely unproven.”

Here are a few of the programs that have recently benefited from gifts to the Michigan Engineering Fund:

Building a healthier world

M-HEAL MESA’s mission is to develop a portable examination table to make gynecological exams safer and more accessible for women in rural regions across the globe. With support from the Michigan Engineering Fund, their members were able to travel to Peru to talk to a community they were trying to serve. 

“A core philosophy of M-HEAL is socially engaged design, which means actively putting the needs of the user and their community at the forefront of every step of the design process,” explained Aman Tahir, a senior in biomedical engineering and former project co-lead and table engineer. “By traveling to Peru, we were able to see the facilities our table would be operating in, talk to the doctors and patients we were engineering for, and get feedback directly from the users and stakeholders.”

“Some of the engineering choices we were considering made sense for the healthcare system in the U.S, but not necessarily for the community we were working with,” said Grace Robertson, a junior in biomedical engineering and current project co-lead and table engineer. “The money from the Michigan Engineering Fund helped us enhance our learning in global healthcare.”

M-HEAL MESA members in Peru.
M-HEAL MESA members in Peru.

Powering better robots

$24,000 from the Michigan Engineering Fund supported the Ford Motor Company Robotics Building Makerspace, which gives faculty and students access to a wide variety of fabrication tools and resources. 

The Makerspace hosts the Autonomous Robotic Vehicle, Robotic Submarine and Strength Augmenting Exoskeleton student project teams, and provides support to other student organizations. By making a range of hardware accessible, the Makerspace gives students a space where they can apply what they’re learning in the classroom to projects they’re passionate about.

Shaping a global STEM workforce

M-Engin is designed to maximize students’ academic, personal and professional success, with the goal of preparing them for the global STEM workforce. It spans a student’s first two years at Michigan Engineering and includes a summer transition program, customized advising, career guidance, learning enrichment activities and assistance in obtaining a paid professional summer internship or research opportunity. 

Wayne Lester (BSE AERO ‘17, MEngSS ‘18) participated in M-Engin starting in 2013.

“M-Engin helped me to make my first real set of friends, secure several jobs (including abroad), and motivated me through to the completion of a master’s degree,” said Lester. “From the heart of a young Black kid from Detroit who wished to become an aerospace engineer and made it happen, I thank you for your support. M-Engin, and its sponsors, played a huge role and will forever be a part of that success story.”

Lester is currently an engineer at Northrop Grumman.