UT receives major SSOE gift to elevate entrepreneurship in engineering

December 3, 2014 | News, UToday, Engineering



The University of Toledo College of Engineering has received a substantial multi-year gift from Toledo-based engineering, architectural and construction management firm SSOE Group to further nurture entrepreneurial potential among UT engineering graduates.

Dr. Steven LeBlanc, interim dean of the College of Engineering, introduced Bob Howell, CEO-elect of the SSOE Group, center, and Tony Damon, CEO and president of SSOE, who announced the Toledo company’s gift to support UT’s Engineering Technopreneurship Initiative.

Dr. Steven LeBlanc, interim dean of the College of Engineering, introduced Bob Howell, CEO-elect of the SSOE Group, center, and Tony Damon, CEO and president of SSOE, who announced the Toledo company’s gift to support UT’s Engineering Technopreneurship Initiative.

“Not only has SSOE greatly contributed to the design and beauty of so many buildings at The University of Toledo, but the firm has long been a great partner of the College of Engineering,” said Dr. Steven LeBlanc, interim dean of the college.

LeBlanc said the gift will go toward supporting UT’s Engineering Technopreneurship Initiative, a specialized training program designed to ensure that engineering graduates develop an entrepreneurial mindset, whether they would choose to pursue their careers within established organizations or in startups.

“SSOE is pleased to continue our long association with the UT College of Engineering with this multi-year commitment to the University and the Engineering Innovation Fund,” said Tony Damon, CEO and president of SSOE.

Bob Howell, SSOE’s CEO-elect, re-emphasized the company’s continued support of the University. “We have relied on the college to provide us with the professional talent we need to deliver world-class projects for our global clients since Al Samborn, a 1939 UT alumnus, founded the company here in Toledo in 1948. We are confident our contribution will help underwrite the development of young engineering talent with the innovative spirit and skills necessary to continue to produce world-class engineering graduates at UT.”

SSOE’s gift will be used to design, assemble and implement a sustainable framework starting the freshman year while promoting the areas of design, entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. The framework will initially be centered around an enhanced freshman design experience, LeBlanc said.

“SSOE is an international organization headquartered in northwest Ohio, and this leadership gift speaks to its commitment to the future of this community,” said Vern Snyder, UT vice president for institutional advancement.

“I want to thank Tony Damon, Bob Howell and all at SSOE who support The University of Toledo through gifts like this and, just as importantly, through the hiring and career development of UT graduates,” said UT Interim President Nagi Naganathan. “This is an example of how two organizations can work together to elevate innovation and entrepreneurship and caliber of the professional work force in our region to the benefit of the entire community.”