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New donations and investments to benefit Memphis students

Engineering students at the University of Memphis will benefit from funds that have gone towards a new lab, a transportation industry program and a STEM collaboration project, and the FedEx LiFE program continues its growth and popularity.


U of M builds Metal Additive Manufacturing Lab


The U of M has put $2 million towards the Metal Additive Manufacturing Lab, which will open Sept. 27. The lab will feature a 3D printer that uses metal powder instead of plastic.

“(Metal additive manufacturing) is an emerging technology that is catching on very quickly in the manufacturing world,” said Richard Sweigard, the dean of the Herff College of Engineering at the U of M. “It’s valuable for (students) to be familiar with the latest technology, and they will have opportunities to be exposed to that while they’re here at the university.”

Sweigard said the lab is designed to allow the university to do funded research for government agencies and biomedical firms. He also said it will be used in training programs for local engineers who want to learn more about additive manufacturing.

Ebrahim Asadi, a mechanical engineering professor at the U of M, said he will incorporate the lab into his Introduction to Additive Manufacturing class. He said new courses will be made for the lab as well.

“We don’t have a course designed for metal additive manufacturing,” Asadi said. “We do know with the emergence of the technology, there will be new courses developed.”


U of M transportation industry program receives $500,000 donation


Canadian National (CN), a large railway and transportation company, donated $500,000 to the Southeast Transportation Workforce Center (SETWC), a program at the U of M that works to encourage students to join the transportation industry and helps them find a position in the workforce.

“CN is a tremendous industry partner for us,” said Stephanie Ivey, the director of SETWC and an engineering professor at the U of M. “They serve as mentors for our students. They provide health trips and industry trips … They’re just a very active partner.”

Ivey said SETWC focuses heavily on attracting diversity to the transportation industry. Through their partnership with CN, SETWC is financially capable of doing research and creating opportunities in the transportation industry for women and minorities.

“When you’re talking about the types of incredibly complex issues that we’re dealing with in the transportation industry, you have to have diversity of thought, experience and opinion at the table in order to develop the best solutions to your problems,” Ivey said.


U of M collaborates with two universities to support STEM majors


The U of M received $1.7 million of a $5 million research grant from the National Science Foundation in support of the Urban STEM Collaboratory Project. The project links U of M with the University of Colorado in Denver and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, to academically support STEM majors with peer networking, scholarships and more.

“Together, we’re forming this collaboratory where we’ll be sharing our experiences with one another and building this practice of togetherness,” Ivey said. “Our students are going to have the opportunity to participate in an online networking program between all the campuses so that they all get to meet other students with similar interests.”

The U of M will dedicate $1 million of the grant toward scholarships for STEM students. In total, the $5 million grant will provide scholarships to approximately 150 STEM majors across the three universities.

“We’re looking forward to providing an opportunity for our students to be supported financially, but also be supported in a variety of other ways, academically and socially,” Ivey said.


Indianapolis-based FedEx Express employees now eligible for U of M Global and FedEX LiFE program


The FedEx LiFE program offers FedEx employees 12 free credit hours at the University of Memphis, as previously reported by The Daily Helmsman. The new extension makes 3,500 Indianapolis FedEx Express Hub employees eligible for the program.

“FedEx and the University of Memphis have seen a tremendous response in a short period of time in the LiFE program locally,” U of M president M. David Rudd said in a press release. “We are very excited to see this phenomenal initiative grow and allow thousands of FedEx employees in the Indianapolis Hub the opportunity to pursue a degree through U of M Global.”

Along with the LiFE program, U of M Global will be available to help employees earn their GEDs and help students transition into college. Dean of U of M Global Richard Irwin said in a press release he is excited to give the opportunity to Indianapolis workers.

“We are delighted to collaborate with FedEx to use higher education attainment as a solution to an employee retention challenge,” Irwin said. “In six short weeks, almost 2,000 FedEx employees have expressed interest in LiFE. We’ve heard compelling stories from many who now have a path to a four-year college degree who previously thought that was out of their reach.”

William Sanders contributed to this story.

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