Each year, the Taste of Engineering program ties engineering disciplines to food. It gives undecided female first-year students and others a chance to learn about the College’s academic departments and to network with fellow students and faculty members.
And each year, Dr. Laura Bottomley, director of the Women in Engineering (WIE) program that hosts the event, works with the College’s development staff to find private funding to pay for it.
“Sometimes I was just going on faith that I was going to get the money,” Bottomley said.
WIE and the College’s Minority Engineering Programs (MEP) rely on donations from alumni and businesses for support, as well as writing proposals and applying for grants. They have no bigger champion than Praxair, one of the world’s leading industrial gas producers and a proud sponsor of NC State since 2013.
Praxair and NC State have collaborated on sustainability efforts, graduate research symposiums and Ph.D. recruitment weekends, as well as scholarship funding.
The company and the College share a strategic commitment to providing educational opportunities for future STEM generations to address the growing need for available talent in these fields. Additionally, they both recognize the importance of recruiting and retaining women and minorities in the field of engineering.
Now, Praxair is sponsoring a student innovation lounge that will be located on the second floor of the new Fitts-Woolard Hall* and is broadening its support of both WIE and MEP.
“EB Oval* will provide an outstanding academic environment designed to help students prepare for successful careers in STEM-related fields,” said Lisa Esneault, vice president of communications and head of Praxair’s Global Giving Program. “Praxair chose the innovation lounge because technology and innovation play a leading role at our company and within the field of engineering.”
WIE and MEP work closely with Praxair’s university relations department. MEP Director Angelitha Daniel said the team is always quick to help with the programs’ needs.
Tragically, two students involved in MEP committed suicide in 2016. Thanks to funding from Praxair, Daniel was able to take students in the program on a midyear motivational retreat to take a break and learn ways to cope with stress. Daniel has another retreat planned for 2018.
Praxair supports WIE’s Escape summer bridge program and MEP’s Summer Transition Program. The programs bring female and minority first-year students to campus before the fall semester begins to network and get a head start on their academic careers.
“As one of our target schools, our relationship with NC State continues to be a bright spot for Praxair,” Esneault said. “We are honored to be a source of support for these talented students. One of the greatest rewards for us is networking with them, and we are continually impressed by their high quality and enthusiasm to learn.”
In addition to Praxair’s contributions, Steve Angel, its chairman and CEO and a 1977 NC State civil engineering alumnus, has remained closely involved with his alma mater and continues to give back to the College through the Angel Family Foundation.
*[Editor’s Note: The Engineering Building Oval (EB Oval) was renamed Fitts-Woolard Hall on April 20, 2018, at the groundbreaking ceremony.]