In 2007 Virginia Tech's Student Engineers' Council announced the creation of an endowment to benefit student design teams at the university. During the fall semester of 2007, The Boeing Company increased the size of this endowment with a gift of $50,000 from its Global Corporate Citizenship disaster relief team budget and a second gift of $15,000 from its grants program.

This fall, Boeing representative Marc Sheffler, a senior engineering manager with the aerospace giant, was back on campus to award another $10,000 to the fund.

“The Boeing Company was looking for a way to honor those who were slain on April 16, and the leadership of the Global Corporate Citizenship team enthusiastically endorsed my recommendation for a $50,000 contribution to this Student Engineers’ Council endowment fund,” said Sheffler, also the Boeing Executive Focal to Virginia Tech and a 1973 aerospace engineering alumnus of Virginia Tech.

Sheffler, who will become chair of the college’s advisory board in spring of 2009, arranged for this $50,000 gift to be supplemented with the additional $25,000 over the past two years from The Boeing Company’s grants program.

When the Student Engineers’ Council created the endowment in the spring of 2007, it used $105,000 of money it generated from the career fair it hosts annually on campus. In 2008, the group added another $125,000 to the fund. Today, it generated a total of $305,000, more than halfway to its goal of $500,000 by 2010.

By creating the endowment, the council created a permanent funding source for the dozens of engineering design teams in the college, explained Lynn Nystrom, faculty adviser to the student group.

“The [Student Engineers’ Council] is using the revenue it generates from the career fair, Engineering Expo, and creating a long lasting source of money that will benefit the design teams of the College of Engineering for years to come,” said Becky Wiggins, chair of the Student Engineers’ Council. “The generosity of The Boeing Company is truly overwhelming,” she added.

“Our endowment goal of $500,000 depends upon how well expo is run throughout the next few years. However in the interim, the new endowment would be able to provide some assistance by using the interest generated off the principal amount,” Wiggins, a dual major in computer engineering and psychology, said. “And with The Boeing Company’s gifts, we will get to our goal of $500,000 that much sooner.

“We are already allowing engineering design teams to apply for a set amount of money from the generated interest that will help fund their teams in design, travel, or any other costs they might have. As these design teams succeed in competitions, they truly show how great the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech really is,” Wiggins of Pittsburgh, Pa., added.

“This endowment is loaded with potential; as it begins to grow, we will see it feed student involvement, innovation, and ownership in their education. The [Student Engineers’ Council] is truly realizing its vision to serve the College of Engineering, engineering student societies, and engineering students by planting and nourishing this financial seed. The [council] is sincerely grateful for every single sponsor; without them, none of this would be possible,” added Michael Chappell, now an alumnus of the University who works as a consultant with Accenture. Chappell, now of Alexandria, Va., was the 2005-06 Student Engineers’ Council chair who originally conceived of the design team endowment.

Prior to this most recent gift, the Student Engineers’ Council had already twice earned the most philanthropic student organization in the country by the National Association of Engineering Student Councils. These recognitions were in 2003 and in 2006 for past gifts of cash to support programs in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering.

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