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11/12/2008 08:00:00

$10 Million Gift Will Create New Engineering Center at Caltech

Pasadena, CA--The Gates Frontiers Fund has pledged $10 million to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to support the establishment of the Charles C. Gates Center for Mechanical Engineering within the soon-to-be-renovated Thomas Laboratory on the Caltech campus. This gift marks the launch of a $20 million fund-raising effort for an endowment in mechanical engineering. With this endowment, mechanical engineering at Caltech will step up its efforts in energy innovation, helping the Institute address global energy and climate problems and the country develop energy-market leadership.

The new center will be guided by Kaushik Bhattacharya, professor of mechanics and materials science at Caltech and executive officer for mechanical engineering, and will support research and academic priorities including the Energy Engineering Initiative in mechanical engineering, a program to develop new approaches and technologies to address the challenges of energy demand and supply.

The gift is being made in honor of Charles C. Gates, a Caltech trustee for 25 years and longtime champion of the Institute. Says Diane G. Wallach, Charles Gates's daughter and a co-trustee of the Gates Frontiers Fund, "My father felt that Caltech did things differently than other prominent universities; he liked the concentration of energy going into science and technology, and loved Caltech's focus on the hard sciences. He was an engineer himself, and believed that mechanical engineering should cut across all the disciplines, that we have to get people from all these areas into the same room, get them talking to each other to solve problems. This gift will help make that happen."

According to Caltech president Jean-Lou Chameau, the Gates Frontiers Fund's decision to underwrite the Gates Center "stands as a turning point in the history of mechanical engineering at Caltech and lends great strength to our efforts in building a program that will not only educate the next generation of pathbreakers in the field of energy and sustainability, but also provide critical energy solutions."

"This endowment will ensure that the mechanical engineering program continues to attract, retain, and educate the best engineers and scientists in the world," says Bhattacharya. "The societal impact of the Energy Engineering Initiative has the potential to be far-reaching, and the proposed Charles C. Gates Center for Mechanical Engineering will play an integral role in the initiative's success, while also honoring the memory and resolve of Charles Gates."

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About Caltech:

The California Institute of Technology is a small, independent university that offers instruction in science and engineering for a student body of 900 undergraduate and 1,200 graduate students. With an outstanding faculty, Caltech is one of the world's major research centers, focusing on those areas in which it has the faculty and facilities to excel.

Since 1923, Caltech faculty and alumni have garnered 32 Nobel Prizes and five Crafoord Prizes. Forty-nine alumni and faculty have been awarded the National Medal of Science, and 10 faculty and alumni have received the National Medal of Technology.

Written by Lori Oliwenstein