WINONA LAKE — The Grace College Department of Engineering recently received a $443,240 grant from the Don Wood Foundation.
The year-long grant will be used to increase the visibility of the program, build its connections to the community and purchase new equipment to help educate students about digital manufacturing.
“Manufacturing is a huge part of engineering and a huge employer in the area,” said Dr. Fred Wentorf, director of the Department of Engineering at Grace.
“But the way parts are being manufactured is rapidly changing, and a large growth area is digital manufacturing. Thanks to the Don Wood Foundation’s generous investment in our program, the engineering program at Grace will now be able to elevate our students’ education through hands-on experience with industry-relevant equipment and curriculum for digital manufacturing,” he said.
This is the second grant Grace College has received from the Don Wood Foundation in two years. Based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Don Wood Foundation exists to grow and strengthen the manufacturing sector in the region by bolstering educational opportunities between students, community and industry.
“The Grace College Engineering program is an important asset to Kosciusko County,” said Laura Macknick, president and CEO of the Don Wood Foundation. “With the growing need for engineering talent in the region, Grace College will be a key partner, particularly given the importance of medical devices and related technologies to the area’s future growth.”
According to Wentorf, who helped the department earn ABET accreditation last fall, this is the next step in creating a flourishing engineering program at Grace College.
“A main focus in the engineering program at Grace is providing hands-on and industry-relevant education,” said Wentorf. “This grant will enable us to make significant investments in both parts of this objective.”
A large portion of the grant will be used to upgrade robotic equipment in the department to include more robots and advanced controls, including vision and PLC. It will also be used to purchase optical measurement equipment capable of industrial metrology and advanced mechanics measurements, allowing students to visualize engineering principles and get hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology frequently used in the manufacturing industry. The time students spend learning the equipment will directly benefit them in the workplace.
“We believe this equipment will help our students have the skills needed to enter the workforce in our community and serve for a lifetime,” said Wentorf. “We hope that as a result of these funds, students in local schools grow to be more curious about engineering through camps and engineering events, local companies gain service-oriented engineers from Grace College and the Warsaw/Winona Lake community flourishes for the next generation.”