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The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering’s Student Design Center will feature the name of a distinguished alumnus who has contributed a total of $1 million, as well as the names of two of his most inspiring educators.

grady edCivil engineering alumnus Ed Grady ‘72 recognized how the SDC would raise the national profile of the school, giving the school $300,000, its first private donation toward the project.

Now, he has contributed an additional $400,000 in support of Phase II of the SOE’s state-of-the-art SDC including the reconceptualization and design of the Student Design Lab/Innovation Suite. Grady has acquired interior naming rights of the SDC’s second floor. Rooms will be named after him, and by his request, pioneering SIUE faculty Dr. Alfred Korn and Dr. Harry Duffey.

Grady has also donated $300,000 to create two endowed scholarships that will support entrepreneurship among engineering professionals.

“The advancement of the SIUE School of Engineering is propelled by the incredible contributions and faithful support of distinguished alumni like Mr. Ed Grady,” said School of Engineering Dean Cem Karacal, PhD. “Our school has continuously strived to distinguish itself as a center of excellence in engineering education in the region. Mr. Grady’s support will help us excel in the effective development of future technological leaders.”

“I am a strong supporter and believer in the value of hands-on experience in engineering,” Grady said. “It was key in my personal situation at SIUE as I tend to learn the most and the fastest by doing. Of course, knowing the theory and methods is equally important, but applying them solidifies the learning experience.”

The SOE’s 14,000-square-foot facility is a hub for the applied learning environment that Grady finds most beneficial.

It features design team workspaces, project prototyping workspace, a large conference room and innovative design labs that encourage collaboration and interaction among students.

“The SDC expands opportunities for students to gain valuable hands-on experience,” said Grady. “In industry, it is also important to know how to work in teams and leverage team problem solving. The SDC is designed to enhance the team and individual learning experience.”

Grady has been an enthusiastic and consistently involved alumnus. Karacal emphasizes his leadership on the SOE Advisory Board and his lifetime membership with the SIUE Alumni Association.

With his support, Grady is naming two of the faculty office spaces on the second-floor of the SDC after inspiring professors who made a positive impact on his life and the School in its formative years.

“Dr. Korn and Dr. Duffey were two of the people, along with others, who proved the value and viability of the SIUE School of Engineering,” Grady recalled. “Both were key in my personal success at SIUE. They pushed and encouraged me when things were tough, and were engaged in my learning experience.”
Grady is paying forward that type of motivating support to students with an entrepreneurial spirit and drive through a gift of $300,000 to the SOE and the SIUE School of Business. His contribution will provide scholarships with an emphasis in entrepreneurship to engineering and business students.

“My career experience has shown that no matter what engineering discipline one chooses, one can get the most of this engineering education if one has a basic understanding of business practices,” Grady explained. “History shows that many of the inventions and technologies we enjoy commercially today were invented or developed by people with engineering or technical training. However, the individual rewards vary vastly based on whether or not the person knew how to manage business activities.”

According to Karacal, endowed student scholarships allow the University to attract and retain high-quality undergraduate and graduate students who want to make SIUE their top choice school, while also granting them the financial freedom to focus on their schooling and get involved on campus.
Grady’s support will provide two sizable scholarships, one in the School of Engineering and one in the School of Business, both named on behalf of the Grady Family Foundation.

“As the culture in technology-related industries is rapidly shifting toward innovation and entrepreneurship, it is extremely important for our School to keep up with the trend and continue our student success stories,” Karacal said. “Providing a culture of creative thinking and innovation to produce new products or services is an integral part of the early engineering education we offer. That is how we prepare outstanding alumni such as Mr. Grady, who can take the initiative to start several successful companies.”

Grady has high hopes for SIUE engineering students and boasts the School’s SDC will elevate the School as a premier educational institution across the nation.

“The Student Design Center is a major selling point to attract the best students and faculty,” he said. “It is my belief that through the scholarships that promote entrepreneurship, along with the enhanced Student Design Center, SIUE School of Engineering students will have the opportunity to achieve success and be the next generation to pay it forward.”