URI chemical engineering program gets boost from donations of lab equipment, computers, more

KINGSTON, R.I. – November 16, 2006 — The Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Rhode Island received a windfall of sorts this fall as several businesses and individuals made contributions aimed at improving the education of students in the program.

The biggest contribution came from Pfizer, Inc., which donated a reaction calorimeter for use by undergraduate students. Valued at $200,000, the laboratory research device is used to monitor heat evolved or absorbed during a chemical reaction. Pfizer also donated $10,000 in October to support various department activities.

Biotechnology company Amgen also contributed $10,000 to the Chemical Engineering Department in October to establish a fund for a graduate seminar program to bring world renowned speakers to the campus.

“We greatly appreciate the ongoing support of the business community, especially Pfizer and Amgen, in the activities of our department,” said Arijit Bose, professor and chair of the Chemical Engineering Department. “Their regular involvement helps us ensure that the equipment we use and the projects we work on have real world applications that our students can benefit from when they graduate. The seminar program allows our students to become exposed to cutting-edge research, and provides visibility to our department.”

URI alumni John Nystrom and Robert Andren each donated $5,000 last month for the purchase of new computers for use in the department and to support the URI chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. According to Bose, the computers will be located in a room where students can not only work with the hardware but interact with fellow students, providing a richer learning experience.

In addition, alumnus James Clappin contributed $2,000 to support department activities, while retired Professor Vincent Rose donated a $2,000 laptop for student use. Two members of the Chemical Engineering Department Advisory Council donated $7,500 to support a pilot project to bring high school students to campus to conduct research with chemical engineering faculty in the summer.

“All of these donations will pay long term dividends, in terms of attracting a more talented student population, and providing them with a first class education using the latest equipment,” Bose said.

The most unexpected gift came in September from Rohm and Haas, a specialty chemical company based in Philadelphia where URI alumnus Scott Lawing is employed. Lawing recently received an award from his company, which included a $5,000 donation in his name to a charity of his choice. Lawing asked that the donation be made to the Sensors and Surface Technology Research Center at the URI Chemical Engineering Department.

“It is always heartening when graduates of the University of Rhode Island demonstrate their loyalty and support for their alma mater by making a contribution to a program for which they have an affinity,” said Robert Clough, senior development officer for the URI College of Engineering. “We are tremendously grateful for their generosity and commitment to the University.”