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Supporting an experiential learning environment

March 25, 2015

Michael Zawalsky, BESc/HBA'14, gives back to Western Engineering to give current students hands-on, experiential learning experiences.

Fresh off his graduation from Western, Michael Zawalsky, BESc/HBA’14, has made a generous decision. He’s giving back to his alma mater by contributing to the Western Engineering Student Endowment Laboratory (WESEL) Fund.

“Western Engineering was a transformative force in my life – and it was the same for many others. That’s why I want to give back and to support other students,” said Zawalsky, who helped launch the WESEL Fund.

In the fall of 2012, the Undergraduate Engineering Society (UES) created the WESEL Fund to purchase new lab equipment and upgrade engineering lab spaces and design centres at Western.

The goal of the fund is to provide undergraduate engineering students with an up-to-date, inspiring and experiential laboratory environment in which to learn and create.

“When alumni came to visit at engineering open houses, they often remarked that current students were using the same lab equipment they did in the ’80s and ’90s,” said Zawalsky. “Sometimes we weren’t able to complete the lab component of our courses because of old equipment.”

In the three years since the fund was launched, the following projects, among others not listed here, have been facilitated to enhance the student learning experience:

  • Five Marcet Boilers purchased for second-year thermodynamics laboratory – until these were installed, students didn’t have access to the “hands-on” component of the course,
  • Plate and frame filter press purchased for third-year chemical, biochemical and green process engineering labs – the previous version did not work, despite being an extremely relevant piece of equipment for students,
  • Data Loggers for third-year civil engineering students – this new equipment is state-of-the-art and high-speed.

“The WESEL Fund is already providing great benefits,” said Andrew N. Hrymak, dean, Western Engineering. “This funding is giving students a richer learning experience.”

The WESEL Fund is mainly supported by undergraduate Engineering students, although their support is entirely voluntary and students may choose to opt out.

“Giving to WESEL provides extreme transparency,” said Zawalsky. “I’m not giving to a black box. I know I’m supporting lab equipment that will provide an immediate benefit for undergraduate students and their education.”

For more information about WESEL and its impact on student learning, please contact Virginia Daugharty, alumni and development officer at Western Engineering (519.661.4209 or vdaughar@uwo.ca).


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