by Patricia O’Dell
The relationship between the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering and Honeywell benefits both organizations, and the Kansas City community.
New technology. New research. New partnerships. As the School of Computing and Engineering expands with the addition of the new Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, students, faculty and staff are thrilled with the prospect of expanded opportunities for research, education and innovation.
Honeywell, which manages the U.S. Department of Energy’s Kansas City National Security Campus, has been a steady partner of the school in growth and development. The company has invested nearly $200,000 in SCE in the last three years for a variety of projects that correspond with Honeywell’s priorities, including FIRST Robotics, a competition for high schools students in robotics; the KC Engineering Zone, a K-12 engineering based education center and maker-space on UMKC’s campus; and the Women of Color Leadership Conference, which provides equity, education and professional development for women of color in the Kansas City area.
When SCE dean Kevin Truman created the KC STEM Alliance, a nonprofit K-12 STEM education organization managed through SCE, he recruited Robin Stubenhofer, vice president of engineering for Honeywell in Kansas City to serve as a founding board member. While Honeywell has a strong commitment to supporting the Kansas City community – they contribute $1 million annually to support education and community programs – the organization has identified SCE as a trusted partner. Honeywell made its first major gift to SCE in 2003.
“We partner with organizations who are advancing STEM education and workforce development throughout the city, especially in underserved communities,” Stubenhofer says. “Initially we were focused on hiring students, but the partnership grew as we worked with the KC STEM Alliance and had the opportunity to work more with Dean Truman.”
Truman recognized that Honeywell was a significant community partner, STEM employer, and resource for high-tech manufacturing professionals when he became dean in 2008.
“Honeywell hired more than 700 engineers last year. That’s two engineers a day. I met with Robin and their lead engineers to determine what types of engineers they needed, and the research they were conducting to craft educational and research programs to build skills common with their needs.”
Mazen Mansour, BSME, ‘17, MSME, ’18, was looking to build a career at an organization with high expectations of their employees and an interest in developing their skills. He started working at Honeywell following graduation.
“My main goal was to work at a place that invests in its employees and pushes them to do their best,” Mansour says. “Working at Honeywell not only provided me with that opportunity – they spend thousands of dollars on their employees every year to develop skills – while building products that matter to the safety of our country making our job even more special.”
Honeywell’s ongoing relationship with SCE includes annual meetings on research opportunities and collaborative projects, providing expert adjunct faculty, representing their interests on advisory boards and volunteering as mentors, and providing volunteer coaches and judges for the FIRST Robotics program and other KC STEM Alliance programs. They also moved the annual regional Science Bowl competition to UMKC in 2019, and plan to make the campus the permanent home of one of the nation’s best known tournaments that aims to inspire the next generation of STEM talent.
Stubenhofer anticipates more opportunities at UMKC as the school expands with the addition of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center.
“The Plaster Center is a vehicle for directed research to advance the skills needed in our business,” added Stubenhofer. “Our gift commitment to the research center is focused on equipment to develop skills with current students that will affect our future hires.”
Dean Truman recognizes the important contribution Honeywell makes to UMKC and SCE, and he looks forward to Honeywell’s ongoing involvement.
“They are so generous with their employees’ time for outreach. They give in so many ways that help educate the next generation of STEM professionals. We are lucky that they serve as adjunct faculty, mentors and volunteers. It gives us a great combination of “ivory tower” and real-world learning.”