DTE Energy Foundation gift to help renovate College of Engineering teaching labs

DTE Energy Foundation gift to help renovate College of Engineering teaching labs
DTE Energy Foundation grant will help renovate teaching labs, supporting hands-on learning in the College of Engineering.

The DTE Energy Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to Wayne State University to help renovate College of Engineering teaching laboratories in electrical and computer engineering, civil and environmental engineering, chemical engineering, and biomedical engineering. The gift, combined with the university’s investment in the project, will enable the college to sustain a vibrant culture of learning and discovery so every student gains the necessary technical and personal skills to succeed in the workforce. The teaching labs foster hands-on learning, a critical element in engineering education.

“As I conclude my tenure at Wayne State, I am grateful to have the opportunity to acknowledge this special gift from the DTE Energy Foundation,” outgoing Wayne State University President Allan Gilmour said. “Students need a place where they can build things, and teaching labs are essential for engineering students to get hands-on, practical experience. Employers want to hire graduates who can contribute from day one, and these labs will prepare Wayne State students with skills that set them on a successful career path.”

The partnership between the DTE Energy Foundation and Wayne State University to renovate the labs will result in new state-of-the-art equipment, facility upgrades, new work stations and computers, new fume hoods and hardware, and a variety of necessary lab supplies. The completed teaching labs will allow professors to put more experimental work into the courses. While many departments have separate lab classes, the upgraded teaching labs will enable students to learn something in class then immediately go to the lab as part of the course.

“These renovated teaching labs will allow the college to enhance curriculum, create more hands-on learning experiments and initiate industry-sponsored student projects,” Dean of Engineering Farshad Fotouhi said. “By investing in our students, the DTE Energy Foundation is helping to shape a 21st-century learning environment that will attract and retain high-quality students and better prepare them for a life in engineering.”

In addition to the labs, the college is committed to providing its engineering and computer science students with opportunities for experiential learning through co-ops and internships, scholarship support, practical experience through co-curriculars and student competitions, and a global perspective. (See the college's five pillars.)

A 2013 report commissioned by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) that showed a large majority of surveyed employers believe hands-on experience in learning (69 percent) and developing skills to conduct research collaboratively (74 percent) will help improve education and prepare graduates to succeed in the workplace.

“The DTE Energy Foundation is pleased to partner with Wayne State University to provide young people with the skills and expertise they need to be competitive,”  said  Joyce Hayes Giles, DTE Energy’s assistant to the chairman and senior vice president of Public Affairs.  “Our investment in the teaching labs is part of a broader partnership with Wayne State University to help develop the future work force of Michigan,”  said Giles, who serves as chair of the DTE Energy Foundation.   

The teaching labs are primarily used by students to work on class experiments and projects in an environment similar to that of industry. “Everything we do, all of our design projects, are teamwork based, and they require designs for which there has to be a target population with real user needs,” said Maha Fakherddine, a biomedical engineering student. “In terms of real-world experience, we are definitely getting that, and the teaching labs are where we’re doing it.”

Posted July 31, 2013

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