$25,000 Esco Foundation grant advances University of Portland innovation initiatives



July 25, 2017

The University of Portland has received a $25,000 grant from the Esco Foundation of Portland for the development of an interdisciplinary makerspace in the Donald P. Shiley School of Engineering. The new lab, which will open this fall, will join the University’s ThinkTank Innovation Lab and Digital Lab as experiential learning spaces where students can stimulate their creative thinking through collaboration, brainstorming, and manufacturing their ideas.

The makerspace, known as the “Pilot Space,” is a collaborative innovation space designed for students to independently design, prototype, and manufacture their creations. While the makerspace is critical to students in engineering, math, science, and technology (STEM), the new lab, which will open initially this fall to engineering students, will subsequently be available to students in all disciplines at the University. There they will have access to 3D printers, mini mills, a laser cutter, soldering stations, prototyping materials such as arduinos and raspberry PI kits, and other equipment necessary to create models of their solutions.

“How will the students of today solve the great challenges of tomorrow if we do not foster an innovative mindset now?” asked Sharon A. Jones, dean of the Shiley School of Engineering. “The University of Portland is committed to teaching an entrepreneurial mindset through hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that the Pilot Space will foster.”

Jones adds that the grant will also help further the University’s partnerships with the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) and the Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP), which the Shiley School joined earlier this year. KEEN is a coalition of universities working together to help engineering students graduate with an entrepreneurial mindset. Supported by funding from the Kern Family Foundation, KEEN partner schools create shared curriculum resources, implement programs and policies on each campus, and commit to nurturing entrepreneurial solutions within the broader engineering education community. The GCSP motivates students to develop a portfolio of experiences that prepares them to solve future engineering challenges that will be complex and interdisciplinary.

Innovation at the University of Portland

The University of Portland is developing an innovation ecosystem that includes multi-disciplinary programs and experiential learning spaces such as the Pilot Space, the ThinkTank Innovation Lab, and the Digital Lab. These opportunities promote collaborative experimentation, prepare graduates for 21st century careers, engage students in identifying innovative solutions to social and community problems, and contribute to shaping Oregon’s growing innovation culture.

Shiley School of Engineering

The Donald P. Shiley School of Engineering at the University of Portland prepares engineers and computer scientists to solve technical problems that affect society. The School offers undergraduate degrees in civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering, as well as computer science. Graduate degrees are offered in biomedical engineering, as well as a customized engineering plan. Coursework and projects emphasize teamwork, experimentation, and innovation integrated with theory, analysis, and design to prepare students to become technological leaders in the 21st century.

Esco Foundation

The ESCO Foundation (formerly the Swigert Foundation) exists to improve and enrich cultural, medical, religious, educational, and civic endeavors primarily in Oregon and Southwest Washington.


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5000 N. Willamette Blvd.,
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