GRAND RAPIDS — Representatives from Rockford Construction Co. and Grand Valley State University were on hand today to celebrate the creation of an endowment to enable engineering students and faculty of GVSU’s Padnos College of Engineering and Computing to participate in community development projects in the neighborhood surrounding the school’s Pew campus in downtown Grand Rapids.
Led by Professor Shirley Fleischman, GVSU students have long been involved in service learning.
Engineering students refurbish old bicycles and give them to needy children through the Bikes for Kids program. A long-standing partnership with Sibley Elementary has placed university students alongside grade-school students on a variety of projects. GVSU students recently helped build a new floor for local food bank Loaves and Fishes and a sandbox and playroom for the Women and Children’s Center of Mel Trotter Ministries.
A generous donation from Rockford Construction will allow those efforts to expand through the new West Side Service Projects Endowment. The fund will support projects aimed at building a sense of responsible citizenship and leadership in engineering students.
“In engineering we teach the language of design using the precision of mathematics as well as concepts from many areas of engineering and applied science,” Fleischmann said. “With community service, we hope to teach students the language of the heart and of the soul in order to complete their preparation to enter the engineering profession as responsible citizens and accomplished engineers.
“The neighborhood bordering the Pew Campus has many needs that can effectively be met with an engineering approach; however, such needs are seldom presented in the way that textbook problems are presented. Students must learn to see the needs of people who are different from them — and to see those needs with both their intellect and their heart.”