Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Promod Vohra
Promod Vohra

Jon Salvani
Jon Salvani


College of Engineering reaps major gifts

September 8, 2008

by Joe King

The NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology is the recent recipient of a number of generous gifts, including sponsored labs and named professorships, from corporate partners.

“These gifts are another sign of the college coming in to its own, maturing,” Dean Promod Vohra said. “Each of these companies is a leader in its field, and our relationships with them not only benefit our students, but also reflect well on the growing reputation of the college.”

The benefactors include:

  • Automation Direct. Based in Cummings, Ga., Automation Direct is one of the leading manufacturers of the sensors, controls, motors and other equipment that are at the heart of industrial automation. The company has a long history of supporting programs in CEET’s Department of Technology and recently agreed to formalize that relationship with a $100,000 gift that creates the Automation Direct Laboratory and funds the Automation Direct Professorship, a post that will be filled by Professor of Technology Andrew Otieno. The gift will help ensure that NIU students continue to benefit from exposure to the latest automation equipment and encourage the creation of outreach programs that will allow representatives from industry to update their skills in the lab.
  • Mitutoyo America Corporation. An Aurora-based company, Mitutoyo is a world-leader in the making of measuring devices used throughout the industrial sector. This most recent gift from the company, which has a long history of generous support to CEET, creates the Mitutoyo Metrology Laboratory where students will get hands-on experience using some of the company’s most advanced equipment. The $125,000 gift will be made over three years.
  • Harley-Davidson. One of the world’s most famous names in motorcycles, Harley-Davidson, has made a $25,000 gift to CEET to create the position of Harley-Davidson Professor of Research and Development. The first to hold that title will be Jenn-Terng Gau, a professor of mechanical engineering who previously worked for the company. In this role, Gau and select students will have an opportunity to work on real-world manufacturing issues. Their first task is to assist in a program aimed at reducing waste metal resulting from the manufacture of gas tanks.
  • Caterpillar Corp. The Peoria-based maker of farm and construction equipment, which has been a strong supporter of NIU for years, recently made a gift of $35,000 to support various programs at CEET and in the NIU College of Business. The gift includes $14,000 to support efforts by CEET to attract more minorities and women to the field of engineering. Another $16,000 will fund Caterpillar Excellence Scholarships at both CEET and the College of Business. The remaining $5,000 will be used to support the BELIEF Initiative, an ethics program in the College of Business which is becoming a national model.

“All of these gifts are a testament to the growing reputation that the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology enjoys throughout our region and beyond,” said Jon Salvani, who recently was named the senior gift and estate planning officer for the college. “As we formalize our giving program in the college, I am confident that we will see more such opportunities for partnership arise.”

Salvani added that he expects to announce several other major gifts in the near future.

“The field of engineering is a catalyst for innovation and economic development,” Vohra said. “Partnerships with these companies will result in our students being functional and make participating companies more competitive.”