“Climate research is a historical strength of UCI; our researchers have won Nobel Prizes for answering climate-related questions,” Egerstedt said. “We have a strong presence in the relevant basic sciences on campus, and in the engineering school, we have leading experts in coastal engineering, hydrology and clean energy, for example. The Engineering+Environment Institute combines an extraordinarily important question with areas of strength on our campus.”
Putting Students First
But ultimately, the student experience must be front and center, Egerstedt said, and he considers the Office of Inreach to be the most important new initiative to be funded by the endowment. Close to 50 percent of UCI students are first-generation, the first in their families to attend college, and many are from historically underrepresented Hispanic, Native American, and Asian and Pacific Islander populations. The Office of Inreach combines cohort-based programs for students with a home away from home, including spaces for studying, building, socializing and networking.
“We believe that Orange County can be a model place where well-being and opportunity for all is possible,” Samueli said. “That includes every student who enrolls at UCI. Establishing the Office of Inreach is a critical step toward ensuring that every student has what they need to thrive, succeed and, ultimately, graduate from UCI’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering.”
In addition, the endowment created by this generous gift will fund research and teaching; workshops, speaker series and events; administrative staff and infrastructure; research grants and faculty retention; and graduate student fellowships, among other needs connected to the broader Engineering+ theme.
“This support from Susan and Henry Samueli helps us move a massive step closer to becoming a destination for the smartest, most diverse, most passionate and most driven set of students and faculty on the planet,” Egerstedt said. “Through Engineering+, we can articulate what’s different about us and why UCI is a place where you can not only get a great education and launch a great career, but also make the world a little better while you’re at it.”