Wayne State University Receives $1M Gift for New Global Engineering Education Center


Wayne State University alumni Nancy Philippart and Thomas McGrail have given their alma mater a gift of $1 million to create a new center for global engineering education.

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 WSU’s 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.

The couple previously created an endowed scholarship at the college for students to pursue overseas educational opportunities.

“The ability to work across cultures and countries is essential, particularly in many engineering fields where international offices have teams working together,” says Philippart, a 1980 WSU graduate and an adjunct professor in the school’s College of Engineering. “Students who have the opportunity for global learning are going to have life-transforming experiences that shape their future success.”

The new center also will house programs that attract international students to Wayne State, such as the 3 + 2 program, which 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,” says McGrail, a 1982 graduate of 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 already 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,” says 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.

“This new center will provide global experiences for generations of students, through the generosity of Nancy Philippart and Thomas McGrail,” says M. Roy Wilson, president of WSU. “It is critically important that our students become global citizens who are able to navigate diverse cultures and economies.”