Engineering Students Prepare to “Connect for Life”

Connect for LifeDuring a Union South reception attended by more than 120 students, alumni and faculty, College of Engineering Dean Paul S. Peercy announced that more than $30,000 has been given by the college’s Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) to support a 2-to-1 match of any gift made by a student or recent graduate of the college. The IAB is a 16-member board of prominent engineering alumni who advise the college on strategic directions.

The reception officially kicked off “Connect for Life,” a program devoted to communicating how alumni and friends directly contribute to student success inside and outside the classroom. Connect for Life is coordinated by Avery Wine, a junior in industrial and systems engineering and vice president for external relations for the Society of Women Engineers.

The ultimate goal of Connect for Life is to raise awareness of how graduates can become lifelong contributors to the success of the college, through volunteering, mentoring and philanthropy.

“It is important for students to know how much giving truly impacts their college experience,” Wine said. “With tuition only providing about 15 percent of College of Engineering revenue, gifts from alumni and friends are helping support more resources that students rely on every day.”

Connect for Life grew out of multiple years of discussions with the IAB. The board recognized that the college’s future success requires significantly growing the base of alumni who give annually — from the current 10 percent to approximately 20 percent. IAB members made financial pledges to Connect for Life at both the spring and fall 2011 meetings.

“Our message to current students is that every gift matters, no matter the size,” says John Berndt (’63 BS EGR), chair of the IAB. “Developing and maintaining that habit of giving will help ensure the college remains vibrant in the 21st century.”

At the event, the winners of an essay contest that encouraged students to tell personal stories about how gifts helped their college experience were announced. The contest received 63 entries. Aaron Wells, a senior in engineering mechanics and astronautics, won first place and a 2011 Apple iPad for his story about how a study-abroad scholarship to Germany helped him reconnect with a best friend he met during an earlier tour of duty in the U.S. Air Force.

The Connect for Life web site includes information about the program along with the five winning—and inspiring—essays.