Leadership Gift to Fund Scholarships, Engineering Facilities

April 11, 2012 - News Release

The University of Guelph today announced a leadership investment in engineering. Wolf Haessler, a U of G grad and founder of Skyjack Inc., has pledged $1 million to help enhance the University’s engineering facilities and to fund 20 new scholarships.

The gift was made through the BetterPlanet Project, the University’s $200-million fundraising campaign for teaching and research in food, environment, health and communities.

“This will help us expand and strengthen our engineering programs and physical space,” said president Alastair Summerlee. “It will allow our students to follow in Wolf’s footsteps and develop innovations and technologies that will improve how we work and live.”

Beginning this fall, the Haessler Family Engineering Scholarships will support 20 scholarships, each worth $5,000, for the next five years.

The gift will also help fund the expansion of U of G’s new Engineering Complex. The first phase of the complex was officially opened today with tours of the expanded facilities and the Haessler gift announcement.

“I want to help more qualified young people have a successful career in engineering and help the School of Engineering live up to and grow its reputation,” said Haessler, who completed an engineering degree at Guelph in 1966.

The new 50,000-square-foot space includes design studios, machine shops and a sustainable energy lab. It houses new programs in mechanical, biomedical and computer engineering, offered along with existing programs in water resources, environmental and biological engineering, and engineering systems and computing.

“Investing in our students is an investment in the future,” said Tony Vannelli, dean of the College of Physical and Engineering Science.

“This gift will have a tremendous impact on our students. Scholarship recipients will have more time to focus on their studies, and they will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and interaction with community leaders like Wolf. Through such interactions, our students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge to real-world problems.”

Collaborative learning is the cornerstone of engineering studies at Guelph, as students from varied disciplines work together on solutions to real-world problems. The new design studios will encourage group work, and adjoining break-out rooms will allow students to share their concepts.

“Our students are learning what it’s like to be an engineer before they even graduate,” said Prof. Bill Van Heyst, associate director (undergraduate studies) in the school. “That kind of experience will give them a competitive edge when they seek employment.”

The School of Engineering aims to double its student enrolment and faculty numbers over the next few years, particularly in sustainability and innovation research.

Enrolment has already increased from just over 500 students in 2008 to more than 1,000 last fall.

“This growth would not be possible without the generosity of people like Wolf Haessler,” said Hussein Abdullah, the school’s director. “Gifts like this will ensure the continued success of the engineering program and its students.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, or shiona@uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
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