An area corporation is partnering with WKU to initiate a partnership program between the University’s Department of Engineering and area corporations.
According to Kathryn Costello, WKU’s Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, Logan Aluminum, a long-time WKU corporate partner, has made a $300,000 gift to create the Logan Aluminum Industrial Partnership Program and an endowment to fund the Logan Aluminum Student Fellowships and to support the program.
“This program is a formal, institutionalized way to help WKU engineering students and faculty work together on meaningful partnerships with our industrial partners,” she said. “The partnership will include, but will not be limited to, co-ops and internships, full-time employment, projects throughout the curriculum, and industrial stints for faculty. We are very excited about this new initiative and are grateful to Logan Aluminum for their leadership in this area.”
Randy Schumaker, President of Logan Aluminum, Inc., said WKU’s Engineering Department has made great strides over the past five years, and the company felt it was time to help take the program to the next level.
“In our view, this means providing WKU’s engineering students with greater access to real-life problem-solving opportunities in the local manufacturing companies throughout Bowling Green and the surrounding counties,” he said. “We feel this Industrial Partnership Program will be one vehicle to build and grow the necessary relationships between the Engineering Department and local manufacturers, which are key to developing highly qualified engineers. By fostering a strong relationship with industry through this program, WKU will enhance and expand its reputation for producing strong industry-tested graduates. As the Department’s reputation grows, this engineering program will thrive and the region will have an abundance of highly qualified graduates to fill the needs of current and future employers. This is a great opportunity at the right time.”
Dr. Julie Ellis, Head of WKU’s Department of Engineering, said the partnership program will build on the strong relationships between WKU’s Engineering program and local technology businesses like Logan Aluminum.
“The Industrial Partnership Program will cultivate richer and deeper ways for industry and WKU to work together to develop our region economically and technologically,” she said. “WKU engineering students master their skills by doing projects, including projects sponsored by our industrial partners. This program will add many more opportunities for students and faculty and industrial partners via co-ops, internships, sponsored projects, research endeavors, and employment beyond students’ engineering studies. Additionally this program provides fellowships to assist WKU engineering students financially.”
Dr. Ellis said the program will be structured to provide partnering companies with incentives to participate, and it will include a staff position at WKU assigned to cultivate relationships between WKU Engineering and WKU’s regional industrial partners, first among them being Logan Aluminum.
“Logan Aluminum, like all eventual members of the Industrial Partnership, will have a great opportunity to work side-by-side with some of the most promising engineering students in the region,” Schumaker said. “This will be of great value to the students as they translate theory to practice, but it also allows Logan Aluminum to showcase our plant and work environment and hopefully many of these students will want to eventually work at our plant. Also, we envision that this Industrial Partnership will provide professors with the opportunity to do sabbatical and short-term projects on site to refresh their passion for industrial work, and IP members will gain value through that consultation.”
Dr. Blaine Ferrell, Dean of WKU’s Ogden College of Science and Engineering, said Logan Aluminum, like many of WKU’s corporate partners, relies on a well-educated workforce to run their operations.
“It is hard for many to attract and retain engineers, technologists, scientists and mathematicians from other areas of the country, so it is important for the University to respond to their need by preparing such professionals,” he said. “The internship program that will be supported by this gift from Logan Aluminum will provide the University/industry connection necessary to match talent with need. It will serve as a great opportunity for students to gain real-world experience and test out a potential job prior to graduation. It will allow our corporate partners to assess our students’ abilities at the same time. It is a win for both parties involved and for the economic vitality of the regions we serve.”
When this program is fully functional, Schumaker said, WKU’s Department of Engineering and its students will have ample access to industry-based projects, summer work, special assignments, and perhaps even a cooperative education program. “It is widely known that this industry-based application is a key to success in the engineering field, and top-tier schools have many operating models to provide this experience,” he said. “The Industrial Partnership program is envisioned to be the catalyst to provide this critical element of engineering education. The benefits will flow both ways between the IP members and WKU.”
WKU President Gary A. Ransdell said that in recognition of the company’s generosity, the University will name the conference room in the Center for Engineering and Biological Sciences in honor of Logan Aluminum.
“Logan Aluminum has long been an important corporate partner with WKU,” he said. “This innovative program will provide important benefits to WKU, Logan Aluminum and other regional industries. We are grateful to Logan Aluminum for the innovation and their confidence in WKU to meet the future engineering needs for the region.”
Contact: Rick DuBose, (270) 745-5405.