"Once I got here, I realized what a difference private support makes to the school."
The Watson School Equipment Endowment keeps instructional labs and other facilities for students on the cutting edge — a must given today's ever-changing technological world. "Our prime need is computers, and computers are expensive. They have to be replaced every three to four years," says Janet Keesler, assistant dean of the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science. The endowment ensures the Watson School continues to grow and maintains a reputation for excellence. The funds are essential to strengthening the school's core, addressing new opportunities and ensuring resources are available for strategic planning and innovation.
"It helps keep our students current with state-of-the- art equipment and software," Keesler says. "Hands-on learning is very critical to engineering."
Being able to try different simulation software programs, for example, enhances Watson students' learning experiences, especially as they compete with students at other academic institutions that heavily invest in such technology, Keesler adds.
The Watson School Equipment Endowment was established through support from donors Gary Kunis '73, LHD '02; Hugo J. J. Uyttenhove, MS '75, PhD '78; Joseph "Harry" Boyer; and others, including supporters from campus and the community.
Kunis, an entrepreneur and retired chief science officer of Cisco Systems, says he's pleased to support the Watson School's goal of becoming and being recognized as the premier public engineering school.
"The Watson School is the premier engineering research and teaching institution in New York state," he says. "I know that my endowment will support the Watson School's leading-edge research and educational activities."
Uyttenhove, head of IT-Sentry in Raleigh, N.C., and his wife, Kristin Conrad, want to make sure students have the facilities, computers and other equipment they need to succeed.
Uyttenhove recalls how, when he was a student at Binghamton, there were limited resources, including just a "rudimentary" electronics lab.
"Now, when we visit the campus, we notice there's a lot more going on," he says.
Conrad adds, "It's exciting for us to come back and see the growth. It's nice to be able to contribute to the health of Binghamton."
Boyer, founder, chairman and chief technology officer of Innovation Associates in Johnson City, N.Y., also wants students to "have the tools in their hands to solve problems."
"This world is changing," he says. "I see the students here as being a great part of that change."
Emerson Network Power Surge Protection of Binghamton, N.Y., directed a corporate gift to the endowment fund.
"With one-third of our (local) engineering staff holding degrees from Binghamton University, Emerson understands firsthand the caliber of talent that sits right in our backyard," says Kimberly Weinstein, human resources director at Emerson. "Binghamton University's impressive and growing base of technology is not only beneficial to Emerson now and in the future, but to our community as well."
Cheryl Monachino, director for industrial outreach at Binghamton and a former systems engineering director at Lockheed Martin, says she supports the equipment endowment because "it's important to give back."
Binghamton students have brought not only academic knowledge to their work at Lockheed, but also problem-solving skills and tenacity, she says.
"That comes from supplementing the academics they get with hands-on laboratory work," Monachino says. "I was a beneficiary of wonderful students when I was at Lockheed. Once I got here, I realized what a difference private support makes to the school. The equipment endowment is very important. That's where I wanted my money to go."