University Announces $2.28M Invest Syracuse Gift for the College of Engineering and Computer Science

 Bill and Penny Allyn, Enhancing the student experience and inspiring innovation

January 26, 2018

Syracuse University Life Trustee William “Bill” F. Allyn G’59 and his wife, Janet “Penny” Jones Allyn ’60, have made a $2.28 million gift to the University. Their support was inspired—in part—by Invest Syracuse: Advancing Academic Excellence and Student Experience, a $100 million initiative that seeks to redefine the student experience, advance discovery and innovation and expand opportunity.

The Allyn Family’s gift will augment the student experience in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and help students across the University bring their inventions to life, as part of the college’s Transforming Our Future plan. The gift will help fund the Bill and Penny Allyn Innovation Center and an [email protected] invention accelerator. The Allyn Innovation Center will serve as a vibrant hub for student services, creativity and collaboration at Link Hall. The invention accelerator provides the structure for students to design, prototype and pitch innovative products with real-world applications.

“Bill and Penny Allyn are great examples of the critical role our alumni can—and do—play in enhancing the student experience at Syracuse University,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “This gift advances two of our key institutional priorities. It strengthens services for student success and supports innovation. I am deeply grateful to the Allyns for their generosity and for the opportunities their gift will create for future generations of aspiring engineers, computer scientists and innovators.”

Longtime supporters of Syracuse University, the Allyns have provided substantial leadership and philanthropy in dedication to the University and its students. Bill served as president and CEO of Welch Allyn for more than 20 years. Penny taught and coached physical education for many years. They each serve on the board of the Allyn Foundation, a private foundation that provides grants to charitable organizations in Central New York.

The first $2 million of the Allyns’ generous gift will go toward construction of the Bill and Penny Allyn Innovation Center. Prominently situated at the south entrance of Link Hall, the center will visually enhance the College of Engineering and Computer Science’s physical presence and connectedness with campus and house the student services that support retention and academic success.

“We are grateful to the Allyns for their generous support in making the Innovation Center possible,” says Dean Teresa Abi-Nader Dahlberg. “The Bill and Penny Allyn Innovation Center will provide crucial space for students and showcase the collaborative and socially relevant nature of engineering and computer science. Placing student services in a modern setting within the center will aid our efforts to broaden participation and encourage even more students to participate in services that have significantly increased our retention and graduation rates in recent years.”

In addition to funding a significant portion of the Bill and Penny Allyn Innovation Center, the Allyns provided a gift of $280,000 for the [email protected] program. A collaboration between the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ School of Design, [email protected] augments the University’s entrepreneurship ecosystem in the area of device inventions. The six-week program immerses students in an iterative process of “design, prototype and pitch” as they develop tangible products following the Invention FactoryTM model. Two invention accelerators were offered during Summer 2017, one at Syracuse University and another at the Fisher Center in New York City. Forty student inventors participated and over 120 alumni served as guest evaluators or judges. The accelerators will continue each summer and will welcome Syracuse University students from all disciplines.

The Allyns’ gift provided funding for the Syracuse accelerator in its inaugural year, as well as years two, five and six. With their gift, the Allyns challenge other alumni and friends to support the program at Syracuse in years three and four, and ultimately to name and endow the programs at both locations.

Their entire gift is made in honor of the late  Richard “Dick” Dulude ’54, a lifetime Syracuse University trustee and former member of the Welch Allyn board. Dulude and his innovative thinking at Corning Glass, Welch Allyn and Syracuse University remain an inspiration for the Allyns. In funding the center and [email protected], they hope to ignite Dulude’s passion for innovation in new generations of Syracuse University students.

A Gift to Learn From

Preparation for the Bill and Penny Allyn Innovation Center provided an extraordinary student learning opportunity. Six interdisciplinary teams of engineering and architecture students designed the center for their capstone projects. Each team was challenged to provide space to house student services while conveying the collaborative nature of engineering and computer science and highlighting the disciplines’ connection to the broader University. For many of the students, this was their first design project for a real-world use.

Each team presented its final design in a competition last spring, and the winning design was chosen by a jury of professors and industry professionals. The winning design will help inspire the final design of the Bill and Penny Allyn Innovation Center.

The idea to engage students in the design of the center was inspired by University Trustee Abdallah Yabroudi ’78, G’79, the CEO of the Dubai Contracting Co. A leader in the construction engineering industry, Yabroudi offered his support to fund a program where engineers and architects collaborate on real-world projects. The center provided the perfect opportunity, as it will be constructed between the two colleges’ main buildings—Link and Slocum.

Assistant Professor Tarek Rakha from the School of Architecture says, “This collaboration challenged everyone involved in ways we did not anticipate. The educational experience was intense, and the energy buildup brought spectacular work to life. I believe students will look back at this experiential, learning-by-doing encounter in their life with nothing less than pride.”

The design project also gave engineering students a chance to provide creative input in the design stage and work together with architects on solutions.

“The architects would propose something, then the engineers would say, ‘Here are other options.’ Then we’d work together to reach a consensus,” says civil engineering alum Michael Mondragon ’17. “This is a real starting point for us in our careers.”

Help Fund the Innovation Center, Join the Founders Circle

The Bill and Penny Allyn Innovation Center is one of six key initiatives for the college’s Transforming Our Future plan. The college is leveraging Syracuse University’s historical strengths in public affairs, communications and entrepreneurship to lead the nation in preparing technical professionals for the grand challenges of our modern world. With the Allyns’ generous naming gift, the college has raised 70 percent of the funds needed to build the center. Additional support is needed.

Alumni, companies and friends who commit $50,000 or more by June 2018 will become members of the college’s Transformation Founders Circle or Corporate Founders Circle and will be prominently recognized in the Bill and Penny Allyn Innovation Center.

In addition to the center and [email protected], initiatives to support student success include the ECS Leadership ScholarsECS Ambassador Scholars and the upcoming ECS Service Scholars. These scholarship programs provide students with financial, academic and social support to help them excel in college and in life. For complete information on the College of Engineering and Computer Science Transforming Our Future plan visit eng-cs.syr.edu/transformation.

About Invest Syracuse

Invest Syracuse: Advancing Academic Excellence and the Student Experience aims to provide all students with a distinctive, world-class learning experience that prepares them for professional and personal success. The three-pronged initiative seeks to redefine the student experience, advance discovery and innovation, and expand opportunity for students of promise and talent from across the socioeconomic spectrum. To learn more about Invest Syracuse, visit http://investsyracuse.syr.edu.

About Syracuse University

Founded in 1870, Syracuse University is a private international research university dedicated to advancing knowledge and fostering student success through teaching excellence, rigorous scholarship and interdisciplinary research. Comprising 11 academic schools and colleges, the University has a long legacy of excellence in the liberal arts, sciences and professional disciplines that prepares students for the complex challenges and emerging opportunities of a rapidly changing world. Students enjoy the resources of a 270-acre main campus and extended campus venues in major national metropolitan hubs and across three continents. Syracuse’s student body is among the most diverse for an institution of its kind across multiple dimensions, and students typically represent all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Syracuse also has a long legacy of supporting veterans and is home to the nationally recognized Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the first university-based institute in the U.S. focused on addressing the unique needs of veterans and their families. To learn more about Syracuse University, visit http://syracuse.edu.