With the distribution of its latest round of scholarships, the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation (TTF) has crossed the $1-million mark in financial contributions to deserving college students and charitable initiatives at more than 40 organizations. This comes on the heels of the 10-year anniversary of the nonprofit founded by Thornton Tomasetti, Inc., the international engineering firm.
Through fellowships and scholarships, the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation supports the education of undergraduate engineers planning to pursue graduate studies in building engineering, design or technology. TTF also provides financial support for individuals and organizations pursuing philanthropic activities related to those sectors worldwide.
“During the past 10 years, the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation has strived to positively impact the lives of students pursuing higher education in engineering and related fields with scholarships and experiences that allow them to apply their technical skills for the greater good,” said Richard L. Tomasetti, chairman of the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation and founding principal of Thornton Tomasetti, Inc. “The foundation’s mission stems from the firm’s heritage of encouraging education and community outreach.”
The financial contributions disbursed by TTF encourage graduate studies, research, innovation, and community service. One of TTF’s largest annual initiatives is the National Scholarship, where three undergraduates attending U.S universities, interested in the integration of engineering and architecture, receive $10,000 each to continue graduate engineering studies.
A yearly Student Innovation Fellowship also helps two students fund research projects that further innovation in structural engineering or applied mechanics. This year’s winners will each receive $5,000 for research in autonomous visual monitoring of a building’s health and automatic wind-dependent building shape changing.
For these merits, TTF receives applications from the engineering departments of more than 50 colleges and universities nationwide. A college student from the United Kingdom is also selected for an annual scholarship to further their education. In 2018, TTF introduced the Technical Literacy Fellowship, a research program to promote public technical literacy and understanding of engineering processes that underlie all structures in the built environment.
Over the past decade, TTF has also provided grants to the engineering departments at several universities such as Lehigh and NYU-Poly and established the annual Eli W. Cohen scholarship at the University of Illinois (UI) at Urbana-Champaign in memory of the late Thornton Tomasetti principal and UI graduate who helped shape the Chicago skyline.
Aid from TTF also enables collegiate chapters of Engineers Without Borders and Bridges to Prosperity to travel to Africa and Central and South America to construct bridges, shelters, healthcare clinics, schools and other projects that are critical to the regions’ infrastructure and greatly revitalize social and economic opportunities for its residents. TTF receives project proposals from these student organizations and specific projects are approved by the TTF board of governors.
“Our long-standing partnership with the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation has been vital to the growth of our organization and to encouraging engineers to explore how their skills and experience can change the world. We believe this partnership highlights the way that nonprofits, businesses, and communities can come together to create an impact in the developing world and are proud to be a Thornton Tomasetti Foundation grantee,” said Avery Bang, president and chief executive officer, Bridges to Prosperity.
Mary Perkins, public and donor relations director at Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) said, “The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation’s commitment shines through the life-changing EWB-USA projects they have supported through the years. From the design and build of a cable suspended bridge in Guatemala making medical care, markets and schools more accessible to the completion of a primary school in rural Ghana, the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation helps fulfill the world’s engineering needs.”
A grant to Cooper Union’s Center for Sustainable Engineering recently allowed students to purchase materials for the construction of portable emergency shelter kits in Ghana and Burkina Faso that can be used to protect refugees or victims of natural disasters.
“Support from TTF over the past eight years has kept alive our dream of sustainable shelter,” said Toby Cumberbatch, professor of electrical engineering at The Cooper Union. “Starting with mud and bamboo in Northern Ghana for low-energy mass housing, we moved to emergency refugee shelters for sub-Saharan Africa. RiFSK, our current iteration, is an economic, completely biodegradable shelter kit designed for refugees in flight.”
While it is important to provide opportunities for engineering students to continue their education, research and philanthropy work, it’s also imperative to nourish the younger minds that may dream of one day becoming engineers. In the span of 10 years, TTF has committed to the training of vocational students on earthquake-resistant design techniques and safety in Africa, Indonesia and Peru through organizations such as Build Change and GeoHazards.
TTF empowers underserved students, helping them learn skills to assist the pursuit of successful college and career trajectories at The Urban Assembly Schools in Manhattan, and supports STEM education in elementary schools. TTF also provided a $12,500 matching grant that raised $25,000 to fund the creation of a website based on “Those Amazing Engineers,” an engineering text that introduces young readers to the engineering profession.
“The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation has been instrumental in getting our schools off the ground,” said Kristin Kearns-Jordan, CEO of The Urban Assembly. “It understood the career connectedness and themes of our schools and brought them to life by recruiting partners in the AEC fields. We are grateful to TTF not only for its financial contributions, but for its high level of involvement and support during the past 10 years.”
The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation, a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization established in February 2008, is focused on funding fellowships, scholarships and internships for undergraduate students and those planning to pursue graduate studies in building engineering, design or technology. It also provides financial support for individuals and organizations pursuing philanthropic activities related to building engineering, design or technology. Key elements of the program are college scholarships, traveling internships and grants to and partnerships with nonprofit organizations.