The College of Engineering at Wayne State University has received a $1 million gift from Nancy Philippart ’80, M.A. ’87, Ph.D. ’14 and Thomas McGrail ’82 to create a new center for global engineering education. The couple previously created an endowed scholarship at the college for students to pursue overseas educational opportunities.
The Nancy Philippart and Thomas McGrail Center for Global Engineering Education will be the primary point of access and coordination for all international programs and global initiatives within the College of Engineering. In addition to study abroad, the college’s existing programs offer students opportunities to participate in research, internships and service learning abroad.
Nancy Philippart serves as an adjunct professor in the College of Engineering, drawing on decades of experience as an engineer and global business executive in the automobile industry. “The ability to work across cultures and countries is essential, particularly in many engineering fields where international offices have teams working together,” she said. “Students who have the opportunity for global learning are going to have life-transforming experiences that shape their future success.”
The Nancy Philippart and Thomas McGrail Center for Global Engineering Education also will house programs that attract international students to Wayne State, such as the 3 + 2 program. The program allows students from partner universities to study for three years at their home institution, then study at Wayne State for two years to complete a master’s degree.
“Innovation and ideas are global,” said Thomas McGrail, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration at Wayne State. “Having a base for this knowledge at the College of Engineering increases connections between students and international universities and companies, furthering the economic growth of Detroit’s engineering sector.”
Wayne State engineering students have gained research and industry experience in countries including China, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, France and Austria. The college is currently in discussions with institutions in Europe and South America about creating opportunities for even more students.
“We are grateful to Nancy and Thomas for sharing our vision that engineering students must have a global understanding of different cultures,” said Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering. “That is part of our strategic plan, and this center helps the college expand student access to global experiences while also welcoming international students to Wayne State.”
In addition to enhancing existing programs, the Nancy Philippart and Thomas McGrail Center for Global Engineering Education will establish new programs as global engineering and the international marketplace evolve. The couple have ensured support will be permanently available for students by investing their gift in an endowed fund at the university.
“This new center will provide global experiences for generations of students, through the generosity of Nancy Philippart and Thomas McGrail,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “It is critically important that our students become global citizens who are able to navigate diverse cultures and economies.”
The center is being announced in conjunction with International Education Week 2018, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education.