$2 million gift will benefit mechanical and nuclear engineering

A $2 million gift previously announced by Toshiba Corp. and Westinghouse Electric Co. will be directed to the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.

The companies revealed the gift commitment in November. The University will receive the gift in the form of annual contributions of $500,000 over the next four years.

Toshiba Corp. is a diversified manufacturer and marketer of consumer and industrial products and systems, including electronic and electrical products, information systems, power systems and home appliances.

Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Co., a group company of Toshiba, is a recognized pioneer in nuclear power and a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities worldwide, and provides the technological basis for approximately half of the nuclear plants in operation around the world.

No decisions have been made yet regarding where the gift will be used.

"A steering committee composed of individuals from Toshiba/Westinghouse, the College and the department is being formed to help guide the funded efforts that will take place over the next ten years," said Karen Thole, head of the mechanical and nuclear engineering department. "The gift presents a tremendous opportunity for our nuclear engineering program to ensure we have a strong presence in the renaissance of nuclear power."

Thole said Rick Etling, the director of strategic planning at Westinghouse and chair of Penn State's nuclear advisory board, was instrumental in helping to secure the gift from Westinghouse.

Westinghouse has traditionally been heavily involved at Penn State. The company has funded research projects hired a number of Penn State graduates. In 2007, 28 percent of Westinghouse's new professional hires were Penn State alumni.

The firm also endowed the Lawrence E. Hochreiter Distinguished Lecture Series, which honors the memory of Lawrence Hochreiter, a professor in nuclear engineering who passed away suddenly in September 2008.

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Last Updated April 07, 2009