Irvine Foundation funds partnership to support engineering education

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Irvine Foundation funds partnership to support engineering education

The James Irvine Foundation awarded $800,000 over three years to the Lyles College of Engineering at Fresno State in support of its new Pathways to Engineering and Construction Management Careers initiative.

The Pathways to Engineering and Construction Management Careers initiative will connect the Lyles College of Engineering with local school districts, community colleges and industry to accomplish the following key goals:

  • Increase learning opportunities for Lyles College of Engineering students.
  • Form a regional partnership of education stakeholders.
  • Create pathways to engineering and construction management degrees and certificates.
  • Improve retention and graduation rates for Lyles College of Engineering students.
  • Expand outreach targeted toward K-12 students in the region.

The gift is one of the largest commitments from a foundation in the college’s history.

This grant focuses attention on Linked Learning in engineering and construction management education. Linked Learning integrates real-world professions with rigorous academics, transforming education into a personally relevant experience that increases students’ success in college and careers.

“We are excited to expand Linked Learning in the Central Valley through this grant,” said Irvine Foundation Senior Program Officer Vince Stewart. “The partnerships cultivated in this initiative will address critical education and workforce needs in the region and will smooth the pathway for students from high school through college to a successful career.”

The magnitude of the Irvine Foundation’s gift is intensified by Dr. William Lyles, the Fresno businessman and Fresno State benefactor for whom the college is named. The Lyles family and group of companies will fully match the gift, providing additional resources to the college in support of the project.

“Our region needs more educated engineers and construction managers to grow the economy. Investment in engineering and construction management education is an investment in the future. In addition, it offers opportunity for upward mobility for young people in a region that sadly lacks good jobs” said Lyles.

Fresno State President John D. Welty said the generosity of the Irvine Foundation and the Lyles family will result in new resources and opportunities for Fresno State’s current and future engineering students. “This investment supports Fresno State’s mission to provide opportunities on campus that will help our graduates participate in the economic recovery and long-term future of our region.”

“This project will allow us to develop regional strategies for outreach, curricular alignment and services for students, better preparing them to enter the workforce as engineers and construction managers, or continue their studies in graduate school” said Dr. Ram Nunna, Dean of the Lyles College of Engineering.

Robert Fox, State Center Community College District Acting Associate Vice Chancellor for Workforce Development and Educational Services said, “This project will bring together all the key educational stakeholders to address engineering and construction management education in our region.”

Since it was founded in 1937, the James Irvine Foundation has provided more than $1 billion in grants to over 3,000 organizations benefiting the people of California. The San Joaquin Valley is one of the foundation’s priority regions. In 2011 it awarded the Fresno Regional Foundation a $3 million grant to establish the Fund for the San Joaquin Valley.

Engineering education has been a core academic program at Fresno State for nearly 90 years. The Lyles College of Engineering has more than 6,000 alumni, many of whom went on to achieve international success. The Lyles College offers the only accredited engineering programs from Merced to Bakersfield in Civil Engineering, Construction Management, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Geomatics Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

The Irvine Foundation gift enhances the university’s Campaign for Fresno State, an initiative to raise $200 million in support of scholarships, faculty, programs and facilities. Through March 2012, the campaign had raised more than $183.8 million. It is the university’s inaugural comprehensive campaign and among the largest in the CSU system.

For more information, contact Kathleen Schock, the campaign communications director, at 559.278.2756 or kschock@csufresno.edu.

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