Indianapolis-based Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation has awarded a $5 million grant to Marian University and the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering to increase the number of engineers, especially those in underrepresented populations. The grant, to be paid out over five years, is intended to help create a more diverse engineering talent pipeline.
The foundation says there is a critical gap in Indiana’s engineering workforce, especially among African American and Latino populations.
“We know that, in Indiana, there are nearly two-and-a-half STEM job openings for every qualified applicant,” said Claire Fiddian-Green, president and chief executive officer of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. “Addressing this gap is key to providing individuals with opportunity and strengthening our economy.”
The new engineering school opens this fall and will offer degrees in a variety of engineering specialties.
Marian says it seeks to graduate between 80% and 85% of engineering students and attract a student engineering body that closely mirrors U.S. demographics of 13% African American, 18% Hispanic and 50% female.
“Marian’s vision is to graduate transformative leaders for service to the world who emphasize trustworthiness, a healthy approach to life, inquisitiveness, and have the skills needed to lead in the 21st century,” said Marian University President Daniel Elsener. “Support from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation will contribute mightily to this vision by empowering us to serve underrepresented students in STEM through access to a high-quality education accompanied by holistic support from our dedicated faculty and staff.”
The E. S. Witchger School of Engineering will use the grant to fund up-front construction, equipment, and other operational costs during the first five years following the opening of the school.
Marian is constructing an engineering building, which will open in fall 2023. The school is also looking to hire and retain up to 20 engineering faculty members within five years.