University of Wisconsin’s College of Engineering will develop a new trans-disciplinary research institute with a $25 million grant from the Grainger Foundation, Dean Ian Robertson announced Monday.
The gift, which Robertson called, “the largest single gift in the College of Engineering history,” will allow the college to hire 25 new interdisciplinary faculty members to make up the Grainger Institute.
The institute will be an “incubator” for exploring new research directions, Robertson said. The new directions will mature quickly, become self-sustaining and move out of the institute fairly quickly, he said.
“The incubator approach gives us the flexibility to explore new research directions not on a one-time basis but on an ongoing basis,” Robertson said.
The focus of the institute’s research will be on manufacturing and materials. Robertson said the research would fall within national and international priorities that will benefit the manufacturing industry and improve the U.S. economy.
The research will also focus on societal challenges such as energy, transportation, water and healthcare.
Robertson said with the increase of top research faculty in the college, new graduate and undergraduate students would also be more attracted to the opportunities the college has to offer.
The faculty members the institute is seeking to hire will mostly hold appointments in multiple departments within the college, opening opportunities for interdisciplinary research.
The 25 million in funds will also allow for the creation of endowments for professorships, faculty and scholar awards and post-doctoral fellowships, Roberston said.
David Grainger, alum of UW’s College of Engineering in 1950, founded the Grainger Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois.