Viasat Invests $1.5M in Support of Engineering Program
By Eric Breier
Cal State San Marcos’ burgeoning engineering program took another major step forward on Thursday.
President Karen Haynes announced during her annual Report to the Community address that Carlsbad-based global communications company Viasat, together with several employees, has invested $1.5 million to become the founding partner of the CSUSM engineering program.
“Their visionary support will create the future Viasat Engineering Pavilion,” Haynes told more than 600 attendees, “with funding to renovate classroom and lab space, purchase new equipment and instrumentation, and support the work of our faculty and students — quite literally creating pathways to educate the next generation of talented engineers.”
Building on the success and reputation of CSUSM’s Computer Science & Information Systems and Physics programs, the University will begin its Bachelor of Science in software engineering this fall with a degree in electrical engineering soon to follow.
“Viasat is engaged with CSUSM and our community for the common good, moving forward together to enhance the intellectual and economic life of our region and the state,” said Katherine Kantardjieff, dean of CSUSM’s College of Science and Mathematics. “Viasat believes in the University’s importance in our region’s success.”
Other private-sector partners are also investing in engineering at CSUSM. San Marcos-based Hunter Industries has made a $100,000 gift to fund a design lab that will be a hub of collaboration, hands-on design and innovation.
“Viasat and Hunter Industries are sending a strong message that an investment in CSUSM is a strong one, with qualified, workforce-ready graduates as the almost immediate return,” Haynes said. “Together, we are stepping forward to expand the boundaries of what is possible, for our University and for our region.”
An engineering feasibility study was conducted on behalf of CSUSM in 2015, confirming what the University has long believed – it’s a much-needed program in the region. While there are other engineering programs in Southern California, the study highlighted how CSUSM is in a prime position to draw from existing curricula and faculty expertise while appealing to the hiring needs and goals of local industry.
In September 2016, CSUSM was awarded a $6 million, five-year grant under the Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM Program, providing foundational funding for the engineering program.
With Thursday’s announcement of the Viasat gift, the University is continuing to secure the funding that will make the engineering program a success.
“Perhaps the biggest contribution to our future workforce is the work that Viasat is doing with CSUSM to develop signature engineering programs that address critical workforce needs,” Kantardjieff said. “Viasat’s major financial commitment to our new engineering programs indicates a shared commitment to building a regional comprehensive university that meets the needs of our region and the state.
“With Viasat’s support, we will be able to create and sustain engineering programs of exceptional quality that will provide transformational and life-changing opportunities for our students.”
The gifts from Viasat and Hunter Industries are part of CSUSM’s $50 million campaign, Forward Together, a united effort to prepare tomorrow’s leaders, build great communities and solve critical issues. Learn more about the campaign online.
Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist
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