TU funds Make A Difference Engineering program through new endowment

Friday, July 06, 2012

For more than 25 years, TU's mechanical engineering students have focused their talents on projects that address the special needs of area residents with physical and developmental disabilities. As word spread, donations began to trickle into the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences in support of this initiative.

Then-Dean Steve Bellovich took a keen interest in the projects, offering them funds from his budget, and the name Make A Difference Engineering (MADE at TU) took hold. The MADE at TU program has fundamentally improved the lives of many disabled children in northeast Oklahoma through projects such as mobility aids and other adaptive devices.

madeThe social service aspect of the MADE initiative is tremendously valuable to TU students and faculty: The technical challenges are comprehensive, and the client interactions are ideal exercises in developing design requirements. The most recent success was the 2012 building of a sensory learning tool, called the Honeycomb Hollow, that assists students at Tulsa's Little Light House.

Dr. Bellovich passed away suddenly in February 2012 and was unable to see this latest project completed. However, in April, TU President Steadman Upham announced the establishment of the Make A Difference Engineering Endowment Fund, in Bellovich's honor. The endowment was started by the university with a $250,000 investment, and the earnings of the fund will provide support for the MADE at TU program in perpetuity.

"Despite the sadness we feel at the loss of a leader such as Dean Bellovich, we must continue to be a source of strength and inspiration for each other," Upham said. "Indeed, much of TU's success comes from being embedded in a community of outstanding professionals and generous friends who know the importance of giving back."

The endowment will help pay for materials and other expenses associated with projects identified as part of the MADE program.

Dr. John Henshaw, the new chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, thanked Upham and others for their support of MADE at TU. "The students who participate in these special projects learn as much about themselves as they do about engineering," he said. "Aside from the obvious educational benefits, the hands-on process of improving the life of another human being reaps its own reward."

Mona Chamberlin