The president of the University of Indianapolis says a $5 million gift to launch the R.B. Annis School of Engineering will help prepare students for STEM-related jobs in the present-day economy as well as the future. Robert Manuel says the curriculum includes a combination of "specific to the time" training and a liberal arts base to build in skills to stay relevant over the next 20-30 years. "We consistently create programs that meet the need of the economic development world we live in," Robert Manuel told Inside INdiana Business. "We’ll look back in a hundred years and say, boy, we had the foresight to create this engineering program in this different way and it’s a gamechanger."
Manuel calls Tuesday’s funding announcement "one of the big moments in history for us." He says it will lead to five more faculty members, support 30,000 square-feet of maker space and create research opportunities and scholarships.
The school will carry the moniker of the late namesake of the R.B. Annis Educational Foundation. Bob Annis was a prominent inventor, scientist and mentor who founded R.B. Annis Co. in Indianapolis in his early 20s. Annis died in 1999 at the age of 92, but his legacy still lives on through the foundation and R.B. Annis Instruments Inc., which still operated in Greencastle. The company builds precision demagnetizing and testing equipment. Manuel says "Mr. Annis understood well the power of interconnectedness and discovery. This gift will fuel the University’s role in preparing generations of engineers who are critical thinkers and innovators, creatively engaged in contributing to our quality of life through an interdisciplinary, human-centered curriculum."
The engineering program launched last year and is headed up by José Sánchez. He says top graduates of other universities in the states move to the coasts, but the goal of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering is to serve as a "funnel" for retaining STEM and tech-savvy talent in Indiana.