Wichita State University’s quest to develop innovative, entrepreneurial students has gotten a boost with a generous gift commitment from Brenton Myers, a 1958 graduate of the University of Wichita (now Wichita State University).
Myers pledged $175,000 to create the Brenton Myers Innovation in Engineering Education Award. His gift is intended to help faculty members in the College of Engineering acquire the skills and tools they need to teach innovation to aspiring engineers.
“One of our priorities is to infuse innovation and entrepreneurship into our curriculum,” said Royce Bowden, dean of the engineering college. “This gives us a meaningful vehicle to do that. It provides support to faculty to excel and do their jobs better to deliver the best learning experiences for our students.”
As a resident of the San Francisco area, Myers is aware of the technological innovations emerging from Silicon Valley, just a few miles south of his home. That’s one of the reasons he is excited to see the development of an Innovation Campus at Wichita State and the ways in which the College of Engineering will contribute to it. Myers earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.
He worked with Bowden and the WSU Foundation to create the faculty award.
“Ultimately, what we want to do is show students how their technical training can be applied with an entrepreneurial mindset to develop new technology and designs,” Myers said. “It’s exciting. It’s introducing more creative elements into the engineering curriculum.”
Beginning this fall, faculty will submit proposals to use award funds to get the training or tools they think will make them more effective. That could include attending a conference, buying equipment or materials, hiring a student assistant — anything that inspires educational innovation.
The award is the first of its kind in the College of Engineering and represents much-needed professional development support for faculty, Bowden said. Myers’ gift also will help the WSU Foundation achieve a campaign goal of raising $2 million in new money for curriculum, instruction and professional development.
In 2011, Myers established the Brenton D. Myers Endowed Scholarship in Engineering at Wichita State. He also has supported the Shocker Racing team, giving a substantial gift in 2011 to help finance the expansion of the team’s workshop on campus.
Myers spent the bulk of his career working in airport planning and development with the Kansas City Aviation Department. Now retired, he lives most of the year in Pleasanton, California, but visits Wichita frequently.