Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb joined Marian University leaders, community and business leaders, students and faculty, and special guests Thursday, August 10 to celebrate the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the new E. S. Witchger School of Engineering Center.
Over 400 attendees included Marian University faculty, staff, alumni, current and prospective students, and industry partners were joined by members of the community and special guests, including Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives Todd Huston and Indiana Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner
“Marian University’s new E. S. Witchger School of Engineering Center marks a significant milestone in Marian’s commitment to advancing technology and innovation in Indiana,” Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. “Through these highly-needed engineering disciplines, we are not only providing students with invaluable opportunities for education and growth, but also fueling the future of our state’s economy. These degrees will equip graduates with the skills and knowledge, and ethics needed to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow.”
The E. S. Witchger School of Engineering expands Marian University’s vision as a Catholic university to offer Bachelor of Engineering degrees rooted in the liberal arts tradition with the goal of graduating a diverse pipeline of talented leaders who will meet the critical workforce need for engineers in Indiana and Midwest. The school offers degrees in biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, and mechanical engineering as well as engineering physics to prepare students to become leaders with strong liberal arts competencies.
“Through the establishment of the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering, we aim to forge a new generation of transformational leaders who will not merely design the future, but compassionately serve the world,” Marian University President Daniel J. Elsener said. “With knowledge as their foundation and integrity as their guide, our graduates will leave a legacy of progress, empathy, and positive change, shaping a brighter tomorrow for all.”
E. S. Witchger School focuses on increasing diversity in engineering
One of the Witchger School of Engineering’s top priorities is to offer competitive scholarships to attract the diverse population needed for future engineers and graduate these students into high-need positions. The first group of engineering students began their college careers at the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering in fall 2022. The class included 25 percent female students, 24 percent of students eligible to receive federal Pell grants, and two-thirds of the inaugural class are from the state of Indiana with 50 percent from central Indiana.
Marian University engineering students participate in on-campus engineering professional associations, such as the American Society of Civil Engineers and Society of Women Engineers. Additional student engineering societies will be launched in the coming years that further connect them to their peers and professionals in the industry – locally and nationally.
“This is an extremely exciting time at Marian University for our students, faculty, and the community. This state-of-the-art facility that we officially open today will enhance our ability to provide our students with a rigorous, hands-on engineering curriculum steeped in a liberal arts tradition emphasizing leadership, critical thinking, and communications skills, as well as promoting a global mindset,” said Binh Q. Tran, Ph.D., founding dean of the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering. “The collaborative learning environments in the new facility, combined with our small class sizes that provide additional support for our students, will enable students to learn from and work alongside engineering faculty trained at the highest levels in their fields.”
New engineering center built for collaboration and hands-on learning
The new, state-of-the-art E. S. Witchger School of Engineering Center was built specifically to provide students with the learning environment, equipment, and technology they need to succeed during their collegiate career and beyond.
The 70,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility features:
- High-tech classrooms built for interaction and hands-on learning that allow students to take theory learned in the classroom and apply them in various laboratory settings.
- Thirteen laboratories featuring collaborative robots, machine shop and Maker Space, materials testing and characterization equipment, wind tunnel for aerodynamic testing, and a two-story process control unit.
- Five study and collaboration spaces, and a prayer room.
- Signature artwork reflecting Marian’s Catholic Franciscan values.
- A sky bridge connecting the new Witchger Center to Marian Hall.
Meeting a critical workforce need for engineers in Indiana and the Midwest
Marian has experienced a 40 percent growth over the past four years in STEHM programs – Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, Exercise and Sports Science. Approximately 150 students will enroll in the Witchger School of Engineering for Fall 2023 and will grow to nearly 500 students by 2030. With nearly two-thirds of students matriculating from Indiana and most of the remaining students from the surrounding states, Witchger engineering students will be able to participate in internships with leading companies and partners in the area. Upon completion of a degree, graduates are likely to start their careers in the area to provide a technically trained workforce for Indiana and the Midwest.
“By investing in engineering education, we are not only empowering the next generation of innovators and problem solvers, but we are also laying the foundation for a brighter future for our communities and the entire field,” said William Witchger. “Education is the catalyst that drives progress, and by supporting engineering education, we are ensuring that we contribute to advancements that will shape our world for years to come.”
With a generous lead gift of $24 million from the E. S. Witchger family and $1 million donation from Alan Leighton ‘62, the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering was announced in 2021. The E. S. Witchger family owns and operates Indianapolis-based Marian, Inc., a global provider of custom, die-cut, flexible component parts for the medical, electronics and automotive industries.
The School of Engineering received full approval from the Higher Learning Commission in 2022, and Marian University will seek accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) after the program produces its first graduating class in 2026.