The Merrill L. Ebner Fund was established in 2003 by Roger and Sandra Dorf of Austin, Texas. Roger had originally taken classes with Prof. Ebner and had received an M.S. degree from the Manufacturing Engineering Department in 1970 with full salary, tuition and housing support from IBM. Subsequently, Roger founded and was President and CEO of Navini Networks in Richardson, TX, which was acquired by Cisco in 2007.
As planned Roger and Sandra Dorf in consultation with Professor Ebner, the fund was to be used to encourage creative design and commercialization in the Manufacturing Engineering program. In July 2008 the two departments of Manufacturing Engineering and Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering merged. The Ebner Fund was moved to the new Department of Mechanical Engineering with a revised charge to encourage creative design and commercialization within Mechanical Engineering, with emphasis on manufacturing operations.
Within the Fund are two distinct sub-funds. The “Endowed Fund” receives contributions from which the accumulated interest is available for use. Contributions to the “Current Use Fund” are available for use immediately upon receipt. The Merrill Ebner Fund Committee provides oversight for both Funds. This committee is comprised of the leadership of the Mechanical Engineering Department as well as the College’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations and Career Development Office. Activities of the Fund, which impact both the undergraduate and graduate programs, are in some cases fully financed by the Fund. In other cases the Fund leverages its alumni and corporate contributions by providing start-up funds for a project.