It’s been said that the gifts of time, talent and treasure are the cornerstones of a true culture of philanthropy. A group of alumni and corporate partners recently embodied that tenet in support of the College of Engineering’s electrical and computer engineering (ECE) department.
In December, nine men and women volunteered to spend the better part of a day serving as judges in a “mini-showcase” presented by 11 senior design project teams from the ECE department. Already, each of the judges had been financial contributors to Florida Tech, either individually, as corporate representatives, or both. Now, they divided into three teams and listened as the seniors described their projects.
The judges saw a wide variety of electrical and computer engineering applications, including an auto-adjusting window blind, an autonomous crash-avoidance system and a companion for diabetes patients.
Afterward, they convened for more than an hour to discuss each project and provide detailed constructive criticism for the students. Philanthropic support is enhanced tremendously when the donor is able to have direct contact with the recipient. In this instance, the donors and the students really connected. The feedback received from the judges was a gift to the students, who got a chance to hear from industry leaders at some highly respected engineering companies. The judges asked the students very thought-provoking questions, not only about their engineering concepts, but also about their scheduling, budgeting and teamwork. These are the skills the students will bring to today’s competitive work environment.
The judges, all Florida Tech donors, were able to see in action the value of their philanthropic commitments to the program. “These community leaders told me this was an incredible opportunity for them to touch the lives of exceptional students and see their creative energy come alive,” said Gretchen Sauerman, director of corporate giving. “We, in turn, sincerely thank them for this tremendous gift.”