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John Deere Foundation Awards $500,000 to SAU

engineering students

November 2013


The John Deere Foundation has awarded St. Ambrose University a $500,000 grant to support SAU's bachelor's degree programs in Industrial Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

"St. Ambrose University and John Deere have had a long and fruitful partnership, and more than 700 St. Ambrose alumni are employed with John Deere worldwide," said Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, president of St. Ambrose. "The university is deeply grateful to the John Deere Foundation for its generous support of our efforts to provide a well-trained workforce with excellent career opportunities."

The half-million-dollar grant will be used to purchase and upgrade equipment, creating substantial enhancements to the learning environment for current and future engineering students.

"This grant will help us expand our rapid prototyping capability, as well as our machining capability," said Michael Opar, professor and chair of the engineering and physical science department. "We are also developing modern engineering lab experiences for students, which include virtual labs (using computers, software and modeling) rather than the traditional 'big equipment' approach. This gives our students an experience similar to what they may encounter in the workplace and offers greater flexibility in completing coursework."

Enhancements to St. Ambrose's engineering studies will build upon existing program strengths:

  • In 2012, St. Ambrose was one of 85 schools nationwide to received a National Science Foundation $600,000, five-year Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics grant to provide renewable $10,000 scholarships.
  • An outreach program directed to rural Iowa and Illinois K-12 students features hands-on seminars showcasing the myriad of career opportunities in engineering.
  • A dual admissions program provides engineering students from community colleges a seamless transfer to St. Ambrose with maximum support and benefit and an additional $1,000 annual scholarship beyond other SAU academic and institutional scholarships and aid.
  • The engineering department's Program for Assistive Technologies for the Underprivileged allows students to complete assistive technology projects for clients with disabilities in the Quad Cities, Virginia and Brazil.

According to the Wall Street Journal, those graduating with a bachelor's degree in engineering can expect the highest starting salaries among their peers, with an average offer of $62,655 in 2012. In addition, U.S. News & World Report named engineering to its 2013 "Best Jobs" list based on projected job growth, average salary, predicted job prospects and a quantitative assessment of job satisfaction.

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