Left to Right, Terry Pilling, PhD, University of Mary director of Engineering; President Monsignor James Shea; Rick Hastings; Andeavor Refinery Manager, Mandan Operations; Al Anderson, Former ND Department of Commerce Commissioner

BISMARCK, ND—Today, the University of Mary in Bismarck received a $500,000 grant from Andeavor, a premiere marketing, logistics and refining company, to support the development of a new laboratory within the New School of Engineering.

The grant will support the development of an on-campus Control Systems Laboratory that will allow students to learn, apply and test underlying fundamental knowledge and state-of-the-art field applications used in engineering.

“We are extremely blessed and grateful to Andeavor for its generous gift that will help foster the numerous skills needed in today’s engineering environment,” said University President Monsignor James P. Shea. “This grant will help our passionate and innovative engineering students achieve their bachelor’s degrees entirely at the University of Mary by increasing access to technology, facilities and curricula as we continue to develop our robust program.”

The Control Systems Laboratory will provide engineering students access to state-of-the-art equipment to be able to complete the fully-accredited program entirely on University of Mary’s campus. Currently, engineering students must travel to Grand Forks to complete their engineering coursework through a partnership with the University of North Dakota.

Andeavor’s Rick Hastings visits with University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea regarding University of Mary’s new School of Engineering

“We are proud to support the New School of Engineering and its mission to further develop a strong occupational workforce in North Dakota and beyond,” said Ron Day, Director of Government and Public Affairs for Andeavor. “By investing in the University of Mary, we are also further our commitment to creating well-educated communities and strong local economies.”

Jerome Richter, vice president for the Office of Public Affairs at the University of Mary is the person leading the Vision 2030 fundraising campaign.

“This donation helps position us to move forward with the refurbishing of the former University Dining Center (UDC) space on north campus that will convert into a fully equipped, 18,200-square-foot engineering facility,” added Richter. “In the near future the University of Mary will send out a Request For Proposals (RFPs) for the refurbishing of the UDC that will transform it into a state-of-the-art engineering facility. From the moment we request RFPs it will take a minimum of six months for construction to start.”

The mastermind behind the early success and attraction of the University of Mary’s new engineering program is Terry Pilling, PhD. He’s the school’s associate professor of physics and engineering in the School of Arts and Sciences and program chair of the engineering science major. Pilling’s learn-by-doing philosophy for his students stems from all his experiences working first-hand at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia; degrees in high energy particle and nuclear physics; and skills and expertise in high energy and experimental nuclear physics, quantum mechanics, black holes, electronics, mathematics, gravity and much more.

Left to Right, Terry Pilling, PhD, University of Mary director of Engineering; Ron Day, Andeavor Government & Public Affairs Manager; Rick Hastings; Andeavor Refinery Manager, Mandan Operations; Ron Ness, President, North Dakota Petroleum Council

“Students want to be part of something new, something dynamic, something challenging, something hands-on, something fun, something big and bold — and this program has all those elements,” commented Dr. Terry Pilling, Director of Engineering and Associate Professor of Engineering. “We’re excited about what the future holds for our students and the opportunities they’ll encounter with engineering firms locally, regionally and nationally, during their time on campus and after they graduate. So, thank you, Andeavor, for your gift and your commitment to their continued development.”

Pilling added that it’s very critical that the University of Mary, with its liberal arts and Christian, Catholic and Benedictine values-based components, be a talented and well-trained resource for engineering firms and companies not only in western North Dakota, but also regionally and nationally.

That formation and growth has already been evident during the first two years of the program. Students have engaged in collaborative projects with University of Mary physical therapy students to customize cars for children with disabilities, and also designed, created and demonstrated real-world projects in front of regional and national engineering representatives in Bismarck, to name just a few. Students are experiencing ingenuity, team-building, problem-solving, effective technical competencies, continued interpersonal STEM development, and much more.

“Never in my wildest dreams, did I think I would be doing so much real-life engineering projects in such a short time, but thanks to Dr. Pilling, we’ve done so much in such a short period of time and can’t wait to see what’s next for us,” said Phillip Springsteen, of Spanaway, WA, who is majoring in electrical engineering and earned NSIC Freshman of the Year honors as a member of the University of Mary Marauders wrestling team. “It’s an honor for me and my fellow classmates to be part of this special pioneering class of engineering students at the University of Mary. We owe a great deal of gratitude to Andeavor, and other companies like it, for seeing our own ‘endeavors’ through and helping provide a state-of-art facility for future engineering classes and generations to come.”

The popularity of the new engineering program at the University of Mary has taken off since it was announced three years ago and has only accelerated since then. There are currently 60 freshmen and sophomores enrolled in the program with another 40 engineering majors expected with this fall’s incoming freshman class.