USD’s Engineering Programs are now the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, following a ceremony Thursday.
“We can build one of the very best undergraduate engineering programs in the entire country and the world and that’s what we’re going to do,” pledged founding Dean Chell A. Roberts.
A $20 million gift from philanthropist Darlene Marcos Shiley made the transition possible. Shiley, whose late husband Donald P. Shiley invented the artificial heart valve that revolutionized heart surgery, urged engineering students in the audience to aim for similar successes.
“If you can just step up to the plate and hit a couple of home runs for me, I’d really appreciate it because my life is dedicated to that man,” Shiley said. The name of the school also honors her family’s Brazilian heritage, Shiley said.
Founded in 1987 with just a handful of students and two faculty, USD’s engineering program has steadily grown in size with some 360 students and 20 faculty. Currently the program is ranked 22nd in the country, up three spots from a year ago by U.S. News & World Report for programs whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s.
By developing new facilities for students to invent and design, adding new courses in biotechnology and sustainability and partnering with industry and government, the school can become one of the top 10 undergraduate engineering schools in the country, said Roberts, a nationally recognized leader of engineering education who was formerly executive dean of the College of Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University.
Roberts and other speakers also praised USD Electrical Engineering Professor Kathleen Kramer for her leadership in transforming the program to the point where it was ready to become a school.
USD President Mary E. Lyons said the school will be a fitting legacy to Donald Shiley’s innovation and Darlene Marcos Shiley’s incredible generosity. ”We are now able to step forward in a greater and more meaningful way,” and contribute to the industrial base and national security needs of both San Diego and the nation, she said.
Two engineering students, Tawni Paradise ‘14 and Connor Lind ‘14, also talked about the excitement and pride they feel in being part of USD’s engineering programs that emphasize personalized education and hands-on experience. “I’m excited to be a part of the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering and see the transformation that’s happening right before my eyes,” Paradise said.
– Liz Harman
Photos by Nick Abadilla