Generous Alumni Create Societial Engineering Fund

by Mark Dwortzen

Dean Kenneth Lutchen (left) with Joseph Healey ('88), who made a 0,000 gift to establish the Societal Engineering Fund.
Dean Kenneth Lutchen (left) with Joseph Healey ('88), who made a $500,000 gift to establish the Societal Engineering Fund.

It began as an idea Dean Kenneth Lutchen had for creating engineers ready to impact society. It became real through an array of co-curricular and extra-curricular initiatives that resonated with students so much it exploded in popularity. The concept—Boston University Creating the Societal Engineer®—was even trademarked last year. Now four ENG alumni have made a set of six-figure gifts to create a new fund that—with additional support from many generous ENG friends – aims to permanently secure the future of Societal Engineering.

The new Societal Engineering Fund has been established with a $500,000 pledge from Joseph Healey (’88), and six-figure major gifts from David Kiersznowski (‘90), Adel al-Saleh (’85) and an anonymous but grateful alumnus. They seeded the fund with the expectation that other alumni and parents will contribute to it until it reaches $2 million, the point at which it will permanently sustain Societal Engineer programs that exist now and others that may come on line in the future.

“This fund will have an incredible impact on our ability to create Societal Engineers for many, many years to come,” said Lutchen. “Through their generous leadership in getting the fund almost halfway to our goal, these four alumni have laid a very strong foundation.  I invite all of our friends to join in building this future together.”

Healey, a member of the Dean’s Leadership Advisory Board, said, “This fund allows the College to sustain and build its efforts to prepare students to impact society no matter what field they go into. I believe it will have a profound impact on students for many years to come, and on many, many people whose lives they will touch.”

Kiersznowski added, “The Boston University College of Engineering is distinguished by its commitment not only to training excellent engineers but also to inspiring them with a passion to serve society. This fund was created with the expectation that Boston University engineers will hold that value close throughout their careers.”

Dean Lutchen introduced the term Societal Engineer—that engineering-educated person who has an appreciation for how the engineer’s unique skill set and passion for innovation have the potential to impact society, whether that person becomes a practicing engineer or moves into another profession. An array of programs has been established to create Societal Engineers.

Among several such programs are Engineers in the Real World, in which all undergraduates learn from engineering-educated professionals about the great variety of career paths available to them; the Technology Innovation Scholars Program, which sends top engineering students into middle and high schools around the country to inspire young people with engineering’s impact on society; and the Binoy K. Singh Imagineering Laboratory, a place where students can exercise their creative talents to design and build original projects, and which hosts an annual contest and awards prizes to the top projects.

“In all these cases, these initiatives were started with seed funding from friends,” said Lutchen. “They have proven extremely popular and are quickly outstripping our ability to support the rapid expansion needed to meet the growing demand among our students. The Societal Engineering Fund will be used to support and grow them, and, where appropriate, fund new efforts aimed at creating Societal Engineers in the future.”

He added that over the next four years of “The Campaign for Boston University: Choose to be Great,” all alumni are invited to aid that effort with their own gifts, large and small.

“I invite all College of Engineering alumni to have an impact on the future,” Lutchen said. “Our goal and challenge is to bring the fund to critical mass in order to sustain these programs in perpetuity. Growing the fund to $2 million will allow that to happen.”