The Cockrell School of Engineering received a $3.5 million donation from Texas Instruments (TI), a Fort Worth-based technology manufacturer, on Tuesday.
The gift will go toward seven new teaching and project labs in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, which will be located within the school’s new Engineering Education and Research Center. The center, which is slated to open in 2017, will house classrooms, labs, faculty offices and administration offices for the department.
TI spokeswoman Renée Fancher said TI hopes to provide students and faculty with opportunities for innovation in the classroom.
“Our aim with this gift is to ensure that not a day goes by that Cockrell School students are not working on some new idea, some new project, and that the professors are able to try out new innovative teaching techniques that help accelerate the learning process,” Fancher said.
With the gift, TI will fund new equipment for six labs for undergraduate students.
The new labs, designated “TI Laboratories,” will allow students to build sensors, drones, wearable technologies and other devices. The company will conduct annual reviews to ensure the new equipment is current and meeting student and faculty needs.
Being able to apply concepts learned in the classroom is especially important for engineering students, according to electrical engineering junior Cody Scarborough.
“The exposure to various field applications will give students a deeper level of understanding and career preparation,” Scarborough said.
Of the roughly 500 UT alumni currently working for TI, nearly 300 earned degrees from Cockrell. Fancher said she thinks innovation at the university level plays a critical role in preparing students to solve modern problems once they begin their careers at technology companies, such as TI.
“Our own ability as a company to innovate depends in large part on our relationship with universities like UT Austin and its ability to educate young people who learn and solve problems of global significance,” Fancher said.
John Halton, Cockrell associate dean for school and alumni relations, said TI has supported UT through funding student projects, scholarships and research programs in the past.
“TI puts a high value on education and has given generously to student-focused programs, including our school’s Women in Engineering Program and Equal Opportunity in Engineering Program,” Halton said.
Greg Delagi, senior vice president and general manager of embedded processing for TI and member of the Cockrell Engineering Advisory Board, said he believes students are a major factor behind global technological advances.
“Students are critical to creating innovative solutions for the world’s biggest challenges,” Delagi said.
Representatives from TI will visit the University on Feb. 13 to present the gift to Sharon Wood, dean of the School of Engineering, as well as to faculty and students.