Engineering awarded grant

Maria Brachelli

The W. M. Keck Foundation awarded $500,000 to the College of Engineering to be used for new equipment. The grant provides many opportunities for Villanova engineers, including more research opportunities and an improved senior elective.

“Engineers tend to be very textbook-oriented and super structured,” Professor Shawn Gross of the College of Engineering said.

“With the inclusion of the new equipment now available to us, we have a change from textbook learning into a more experimental way of research. It’s not replacing the old ways, but instead, acting more as a supplement.”

David Dinehart of the Engineering College said, “Our main focus is in undergraduate education. Keck has really given us an opportunity to modify our program.”

Professors Dinehart and Gross worked alongside the Dean of the Engineering College, Dean Barry Johnson, Associate Dean, Joan Chrestay and Dr. Joseph Yost, also of the College of Engineering collaborated on the grant application process as well.

Because of the opportunities the grant provides, the independent-study course will expand.

Currently, only two undergraduate students are able to enroll in the course that pairs one student with one member of faculty and one graduate assistant.

In the next semesters, faculty hope to see the number of independent-research studies increase to accommodate a dozen students.

Already in the classroom, students are seeing the positive results of the grant. “Structural [Engineering] is now a required course instead of an elective,” Dr. Dinehart said about the modifications within the major.

“Before, we didn’t have the equipment or means to require all students to take the course. Changes have really started this semester.”

Additionally, a renamed senior elective, Advanced Structural Engineering, will become half lecture/half lab-based with more open-ended projects.

Effective Sept. 1, 2003, the College of Engineering was awarded another grant, this one from the National Science Foundation, in the amount of $250,000, which was also used for new equipment.

“With the addition of new equipment, both the capacity and quality of research and lab work will improve greatly,” Jeff Cook, a junior engineering major whose focus is in structural engineering, said. “These new additions will improve the College of Engineering as a whole, by broadening the areas of research available at the University.”

The W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late William Myron Keck. As the founder of the Superior Oil Company, which placed emphasis on “imagination, innovations, and new technology,” Keck succeeded in building one of the largest independent oil-companies during his time.

Now, with respect to Keck’s founding principles, the W. M. Keck Foundation provides grants in the disciplines of engineering, science, medical research and liberal arts to accredited institutions.