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Auto executive gives to Department of Mechanical Engineering

By Ashwini Natarajan, Daily News Reporter
Published January 31, 2013

It’s not every day that the Engineering dean David Munson jumps in the air to chest-bump a donor.

Munson and the department of mechanical engineering celebrated a $2-million donation to a department chair endowment at a ceremony Thursday. The donation ceremony, held in the Lurie Engineering Center, garnered an audience of about 80 engineering professionals and industry representatives.

The donors to the department included powertrain manufacturer BorgWarner and its executive chairman, University alum Tim Manganello. Manganello is a former member of the Engineering advisory council and executive chairman of the BorgWarner Foundation — the company's charitable arm that supports scientific, literary and educational pursuits.

Because the endowment will fund both the department chair — currently Engineering Prof. Kon-Well Wang — and the department itself, the gift is the first of its kind for the department. In past years, contributions have gone only to fund the work of only the department’s chair.

Manganello said he deeply valued his time at the University, and that his company is using this endowment as a way to fulfill their responsibility of giving back to the community.

“I’ve had a great career — a great life — and Michigan was a big contributor to my success and my life and I thought I’d give back to the Engineering school,” Manganello said. “I’m a proud Michigan graduate.”

Manganello wants to help sustain the high level of innovation and technological output of the College of Engineering.

“I want (Michigan Engineering) to continue to be a world leader in technology … (and) to help mankind … I’m quite confident that they will continue to be as successful in the future as they have been in the past,” Manganello said.

Munson said the donation is crucial to progressing the engineering program, and hopes it encourages further funding.

“This gift is a landmark for the College of Engineering,” Munson said. “Our hope is that this unprecedented display of corporate, foundation and individual commitment to a specific engineering discipline will inspire others in the Michigan engineering community to consider similar support for other departments.”

Department chair Kon-Well Wang, now the Tim Manganello-BorgWarner mechanical engineering department chair, said that the generous donation will generate funds to help carry out important department initiatives and achieve some of the department’s strategic goals planned for the next few years.

“This gift will allow us to explore new ideas that are high-risk but also high-gain in research and also in education,” Wang said. “It will give us an edge as compared to our peers, enabling mechanical engineering at Michigan to make an even bigger and broader impact in the near future and generations to come.”

Unsurprisingly, the University’s MRacing team was also in attendance—BorgWarner is their main sponsor. This team works to build a formula racecar and compete with it in a collegiate motorsport racing series.

Engineering junior Joe Martin, MRacing’s project manager, said he credits much of the team’s success to BorgWarner’s support.

“I’m happy to hear that BorgWarner and Tim Manganello have extended their generosity to the mechanical engineering department as a whole,” Martin said.

At the end of the ceremony, attendees learned that Manganello didn’t attend his graduation from the College of Engineering in 1972. In order to tie up these loose ends, a small “graduation ceremony” was re-enacted by Dean Munson and Manganello, both clad in the traditional yellow-tasseled engineering graduation caps.

Upon “re-graduating” the University’s class of 1972, Munson and Manganello concluded the dual graduation and endowment ceremony with a chest bump — perhaps a true display of University-corporate relations.