(Nov. 13, 2009)--C. Mauli Agrawal, professor and dean of the UTSA College of Engineering, holds the David and Jennifer Spencer Distinguished Chair for the Dean of Engineering.
One of 36 endowed faculty positions at UTSA, this endowment was established with a generous gift to UTSA in 2007 by David A. Spencer and his wife, Jennifer Spencer '93. A San Antonio-based entrepreneur and founder of Mandelbrot Ventures, an investment firm, and OnBoard Software Inc., a technology company, Spencer also helped found the nonprofit organization San Antonio Technology Accelerator Initiative (SATAI). The Spencers have been longtime supporters of the College of Engineering.
"Our goal is to use this generous gift in various ways that move the college forward to tier-one status," said Agrawal, who envisions a symbiotic relationship between UTSA and the city.
"If UTSA flourishes, the city will flourish," added Agrawal. "If you look at all the cities that are really doing well, they have strong technology sectors. If you get more technology, you get more companies and get more jobs."
An expert in biomedical engineering who came to UTSA in 2003, Agrawal is using this discretionary funding to move UTSA's agenda forward and to benefit students and faculty alike. For example, Spencer endowment funds helped to support the College of Engineering's collaboration with the College of Business' Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship (CITE), create a student ambassador program, provide start-up research funding for new faculty, support student competitions, and reward faculty and staff excellence, to name just a few examples.
"We keep it flexible, year to year, whatever the needs may be," Agrawal said.
For example, the endowment supports senior engineering majors to develop capstone engineering projects in the area of energy production and conservation into viable commercial inventions. The annual CITE Student Technology Venture Competition fosters technological innovation and gives students a taste of life as an entrepreneur.
Endowment funds supported a new student ambassador program in the College of Engineering this fall. Agrawal's staff will train selected undergraduates in leadership practices, as well as making sure they are informed about the news, achievements and goals within the college. They will showcase the college's strengths to visiting community leaders and build students' professional development skills.
"They can also help with high school recruitment and outreach," Agrawal said. The students will be paid a stipend.
Since 2000, members of the Student Automotive Engineers (SAE) have designed, built and fielded a racecar in Formula-SAE competition. The dean provides a small amount of seed money for the project, but after that the students are on their own in every aspect.
"We are making steady progress in the competition," said Agrawal, adding that in recent years UTSA's teams have made it into the top 30 in competition.
Having start-up funding for new faculty members to grow and develop their ideas is also a key function of the distinguished chair. "The overall goal is to use this [endowment] for starting up ideas, and then once those ideas develop and we're showing progress, find other sources for revenue," Agrawal added.
Finally, the endowment is making possible the ability to share knowledge among students and National Academy-level researchers who will come to UTSA for short-term residencies with students and faculty. "These kinds of activities do not have funding elsewhere," Agrawal said.
"Jennifer and I recognize the impact a Tier One research university will have on the future of San Antonio. We felt there was no better place for us to support that quest than at the College of Engineering at UTSA," said Spencer. "Simply put, engineering graduates are great for our community and great for our economy. And, giving Dean Agrawal the ability to be creative in how he applies these funds had extra appeal."
The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Graduate student uses storytelling to highlight important issues facing children
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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