Wartburg College engineering science students will enjoy expanded lab space and enhanced hands-on learning opportunities thanks to a $123,300 grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust.
Dan Black

Daniel Black

The grant will be used to renovate existing lab space in the Science Center and purchase new equipment to create an Innovation Studio, which will make do-it-yourself innovation and design more accessible, especially for first-, third- and fourth-year engineering science students who are expected to develop, construct and test prototypes as part of their curriculum.

Daniel Black, chair of the Department of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Engineering Science and the Gary and Donna Hoover Distinguished Professor in Engineering Science, will oversee the project.

“The Innovation Studio will allow us to strengthen our growing engineering science program and expand our commitment to teaching engineering through both theory and practice,” Black said. “While learning theory in the classroom is a vital part of the education of an engineer, it is usually only when that theory is applied in practice that the student truly grasps the theoretical concepts.”

The new lab will include more than $67,000 in new equipment, including a 3-D printer and scanner, computer numerical control machine tools, a laser cutter, tools and supplies for electronic and robotic creations and other general tools and supplies.

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust is one of the largest private philanthropic foundations in the state, with annual grant distributions of more than $15 million. It was created through the will of Roy J. Carver, a Muscatine industrialist and philanthropist, who died in 1981. Since its creation in 1987, the trust has distributed about 2,100 grants, totaling nearly $330 million. Biomedical and scientific research; primary, secondary and higher education; and other issues related to the needs of youth are the program areas of greatest interest to the trust.

Work on the project will begin this fall, with studio renovations slated for spring 2017. The Innovation Studio would be open to engineering students in fall 2017. Engineering science students will be trained as studio monitors during the summer of 2018, allowing the studio to be open to all students during the following school year.

The department is making plans to host an engineering design camp for middle and high school students in 2019. Depending on usage patterns, the lab could eventually be open to off-campus clients.