UTSA student Jonathan De La Torre gets a closer look at the formula race car built by the university's nine-member Society of Automotive Engineers. The car, built in 2008, received top ratings at the National Formula SAE West competition in California. The group plans another trip to the competition in 2010.
Mauli Agrawal, dean of the College of Engineering (COE) at The University of Texas at San Antonio, has a long list of accomplishments. The nationally-recognized engineer has been published in leading journals as an authority in bioengineering.
But it is his affinity to help students achieve their potential that has become one of his greatest achievements and is one of the reasons the UTSA College of Engineering is ninth in the country for educating Hispanic engineers.
Because of the David and Jennifer Spencer Distinguished Chair for the Dean of Engineering, Agrawal has helped fund several opportunities for student achievement and professional development.
The endowment, created by a generous $1 million gift from David and Jennifer Spencer, established the distinguished chair as a powerful resource used exclusively to strengthen and advance teaching, research and outreach programs in the college. "The College of Engineering at UTSA is the most profound investment we can make for our community. It produces high-wage graduates that are in demand," says David Spencer, who helped found the non-profit organization San Antonio Technology Accelerator Initiative (SATAI).
So far, the endowment has supported the College of Engineering Ambassador Program, the Society of Automotive Engineers, Engineers Without Borders and energy-related student technology projects.
"We are also using these funds for enhancing international collaborations, bringing national academy members to town and funding faculty and staff excellence awards," Agrawal said.
Participation in the Ambassador Program provides valuable out-of-classroom experiences.
As official COE representatives, Ambassadors attend leadership workshops and assist faculty and staff with hosting events and guests to the college. Support from the endowment is used for student stipends, workshop expenses, uniforms and other costs.
UTSA's Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) put what they've learned in the classroom to use by building a race car for the national SAE Formula competition.
Support from the endowment pays for competition expenses, and students gain insight into the history, technology and production of a race car.
Engineers Without Borders is a national nonprofit organization that designs and implements sustainable engineering projects worldwide. Funds from the endowment are being used to help students in the UTSA chapter reach out globally by building a much-needed medical clinic in San Lorenzo, Bolivia.
Funds also are used in the construction of energy-related projects. These student-created designs focus on addressing current and future global energy issues while teaching students about commercialization, a key contributor to the country's economic stability.
Funding from the David and Jennifer Spencer Distinguished Chair for the Dean of Engineering helps to advance knowledge, giving UTSA students the opportunity to become future authorities in the field
"Through their vision and their generous gift, David and Jennifer Spencer have empowered the College of Engineering to rise to new heights of excellence in quality education and research," Agrawal said.
The David and Jennifer Spencer Distinguished Chair for the Dean of Engineering was established in 2007. Funds were invested in The University of Texas System Long Term Fund, which is managed by The University of Texas Investment Management Company.