Wayne State University

$25 million gift from College of Engineering alumnus establishes entrepreneurship program

$25 million gift from College of Engineering alumnus establishes entrepreneurship program
The $25 million gift from alumnus James A. Anderson and his wife, Patricia, is the largest ever to the College of Engineering. The Andersons are Wayne State's most generous donors.

The College of Engineering at Wayne State University has announced a $25 million gift from alumnus James A. Anderson (BSCE ’66, MSCE ’70) and his wife, Patricia, to bolster the entrepreneurial efforts of engineering and computer science faculty and students and drive Detroit’s economic renewal.

The investment will establish the James and Patricia Anderson Engineering Ventures Institute to foster a culture of entrepreneurship by offering expert guidance and resources for faculty and students during the startup process. Embedded within the College of Engineering, the institute will encourage faculty to envision commercial applications for new technology, secure patents and establish new companies. The institute will also provide mentors to aspiring student entrepreneurs and teach best practices in research innovation, technology transfer and commercialization.

“Jim Anderson is one of the most admired entrepreneurs in Detroit,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “He began his career at Wayne State before he founded his company, Urban Science. By establishing the Anderson Institute, he and Patti are empowering our engineering and computer science faculty and students to follow in his footsteps and turn their ideas into businesses.”

Anderson is president and CEO of Urban Science, a global automotive retail consulting firm headquartered in Detroit, with more than 850 employees in 19 offices around the world.

He began his career in 1967 as an instructor at Wayne State University’s College of Engineering where he developed environmental models and computer mapping techniques to display data. Later, through the Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies, he expanded his capabilities by mapping census, employment and other types of demographic data using statistical and mathematical models.

Anderson pioneered a number of innovative, computer-generated mapping solutions including a software program that enabled General Motors’ Cadillac Motor Division to map luxury car buyers electronically, laying the foundation for scientific dealership network planning and operational performance improvement.

“Investing in engineering and computer science education in Detroit will expedite the city’s renewal to its place of prominence in the world,” said Anderson, who also serves as chair of the College of Engineering’s Board of Visitors. “The philosophy behind the institute is captured in a statement first made by Abraham Lincoln. ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.’ That is what the institute will be all about.”

Wayne State University’s location in Detroit, along with its faculty experts in engineering, business, law, medicine and more, creates a unique place to house the Anderson Institute and steward its mission to move commercially viable technology from the laboratory to the marketplace. Engineering faculty accomplishments include 160 patent applications, twelve licenses and four startup companies in the past five years.

“Jim has proven that the force of intellect coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit can change the world,” said Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering. “Inspired by his personal and professional journey, the Anderson Institute will become a destination for engineers who are passionate about improving quality of life through research and innovation.”

The Andersons’ gift is part of Wayne State University’s $750 million Pivotal Moments fundraising campaign. With this most recent gift, the campaign has raised $382.2 million to date.

About Urban Science

Founded in 1977, Urban Science is a global automotive retail consulting firm that takes a scientific approach to help companies identify where they should allocate resources to increase their market share and profitability in the most effective and efficient manner. With headquarters in Detroit, Urban Science serves its global clientele from offices in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. For more information on Urban Science, visit www.urbanscience.com.

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students. For information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit engineering.wayne.edu.

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