The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering celebrated the grand opening of the state-of-the-art Fowler Student Design Center on Wednesday, Oct. 30. The Fowler Center was made possible by a generous $1.25 million gift from the Fowler Family, combined with other contributions from major donors such as Ed Grady and Ralph Korte.
“As we continue to offer our engineering students the best possible education, this event marks yet another significant step forward for the School of Engineering and for the University,” said SOE Dean Cem Karacal, PhD, who oversaw the ceremony. “This facility will allow our students to have access to much needed space, up-to-date technology and a state-of-the-art experiential learning and collaboration environment.”
Jonathan Fowler represented the Fowler Family and referenced his undergraduate experience.
“I got to experience first-hand the School of Engineering’s need for this building (FSDC),” he said. “I sat right here (SOE atrium) in this building studying for finals, while people were working on solar cars and Baja cars right over there. It’s not easy to focus when all that is going on around you.
“The Student Design Center was a tremendous need for SIUE to keep producing the type of students that come out into the workforce and help make companies like ours successful. We’re proud to play any part that we can in continuing that tradition.”
SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook spoke of the win-win situation for the University and the community. “The expansion of the facility gives our students the opportunity to experience one of the most important things at SIUE, and that’s hands-on learning,” he said. “This building allows our students to be better students and better graduates. That’s the win for us.
“The win for the community is that once the students go out working in local and regional businesses, employers get highly qualified, experienced employees who are capable of getting the job done.”
Grady, who sponsored the FSDC’s second floor, remarked about the SOE’s impact on his career.
“We got involved in this project to get other people engaged, to give back and to expand the opportunities for students and faculty,” he said “I credit the solid foundation that I received, the hands-on, practical education at the SIUE School of Engineering for much of the success that I’ve had in my career. I’m confident that the Fowler Student Design Center and our endowment will continue to reinforce this experience for students and faculty moving forward.”
Joint Engineering Student Council President Holly Liebel, of Liberty, Mo., was grateful to all. “It’s been a wonderful experience to watch the design students grow into the space and to see the design students on the second floor collaborating with their teachers.”
The FSDC provides much-needed space for students involved in senior design projects, collegiate competition teams, clubs and organizations. The two-story, 14,000-square-foot addition to the SOE Building includes design team workspaces, design labs and an engineer’s alley to showcase projects.
The Fowler Family is a longtime supporter of the SOE, witnessing its rapid advancement as a premier educational institution, as well as the University’s growth as a regional destination. “SIUE has meant a lot to our family through the years,” Fowler said. “When my grandfather brought JF Electric to Edwardsville, some of the first jobs that we completed were on this campus.”
The Fowler Family annually presents the James C. Fowler Scholarship to deserving students in the SOE and in the SIUE School of Business. Jonathan Fowler serves on the SOE’s Advisory Board.
Following the remarks, tours of the facility were provided.
The SIUE School of Engineering is one of the largest engineering schools in the region. It offers comprehensive and affordable engineering programs with eight undergraduate degrees, five master’s degrees and two cooperative doctoral programs. Students learn from expert faculty, perform cutting-edge research, and participate in intercollegiate design competitions. Companies in the metropolitan St. Louis area provide students challenging internships and co-op opportunities, which often turn into permanent employment. Students gain hands-on experience in the School’s state-of-the-art facilities, including the new Fowler Student Design Center.
PHOTO: From left, Ed Grady, SIUE Joint Engineering Student Council President Holly Liebel, JF Electric President Greg Fowler, Jonathan Fowler, SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook and SOE Dean Cem Karacal.