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Building relationships through corporate giving

by Amy Boyce

Gifts from corporations provide a critical source of revenue for Virginia Tech. However, while monetary support is important, so are the relationships these companies build with Virginia Tech--relationships that are often facilitated by Virginia Tech alumni.

The Honeywell International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Honeywell Corporation, has given a great deal to Virginia Tech. Honeywell's gifts have had a wide-ranging impact on the university, supporting the College of Engineering, international programs, laboratories, student organizations, student team competitions, communications programs, computer-aided design programs, and diversity programs for women and minorities. Virginia Tech's relationship with Honeywell allowed students from the College of Engineering to have a laboratory experience at University College in London. In addition, students in the design course have been able to work on real industrial problems.

"Honeywell has been very supportive of student organizations--both in money and in time. They have provided employment opportunities in the form of co-ops, internships, and permanent jobs," says Bevlee Watford, associate dean of academic affairs for the College of Engineering.

Lori Wagner (chemical engineering '82; Ph.D. '87), manager of Spectra Technology at Honeywell International, has been instrumental in facilitating the relationship between Virginia Tech and Honeywell. In addition to her job responsibilities, she is the university's campus manager and has facilitated the company's support of Virginia Tech programs. She has also served on several committees in the College of Engineering. Wagner, who earned the College of Engineering's Distinguished Service Award in 2001, exemplifies the importance of active alumni support in fostering corporate relationships.

Another valuable supporter of the university is Motorola, a corporate supplier of wireless technology research at Virginia Tech. In addition to donating funding, Motorola provides equipment, materials, and research opportunities for both students and faculty.

Advised by electrical and computer engineering professors Charles Bostian and Sanjay Raman, a team of eight graduate students recently participated in Motorola's first Wireless and Beyond Integrated Circuit wireless design contest. Competing against teams from Arizona State, Georgia Tech, University of Illinois, and University College, Cork (Ireland), the students designed a 5 GHz receiver on a chip using Motorola's state-of-the-art 0.18 µm Silicon Germanium (SiGe) BiCMOS process. The design is now being manufactured, and units will be shipped to Tech for testing. "We appreciate the investment Motorola is making in Virginia Tech, not just financially, but in helping with design competitions and providing research and employment opportunities for our students," says Center for Wireless Telecommunications Director George Morgan.

For several years before his recent retirement, Virginia Tech's corporate champion at Motorola was Vice President Jim George (electrical and computer engineering '64). That role is now filled by Chris Magnella (materials engineering '84), manufacturing manager of the Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector. Eric Maass, director of technology strategy and strategic alliances at Motorola, also provides a vital link between Virginia Tech and the company.

"Continuing to build on our relationships with corporate partners is critical if Virginia Tech is to become one of the nation's top-30 research institutions," says Sam Albimino, director of Corporate and Foundation Relations. "Such relationships have a significant impact on the university and represent an important investment in Virginia Tech's educational mission."

Amy Boyce is a writer for the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations.