Regular readers of this blog know that many corporations involved in manufacturing, energy, and technology support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities as part of their communities or philanthropic giving. A short list of such funders includes Toyota USA, Northrop Grumman, Intel, Honda USA, and Lockheed Martin. Well, add Bobcat to that list.
Bobcat, headquartered in West Fargo, North Dakota, is a manufacturer of small hydraulic equipment for farming and construction. It builds compact tractors, compact excavators, mini-track loaders, and other compact utility vehicles. Bobcat is part of the Doosan Group of South Korea, a worldwide conglomerate in the production of construction equipment.
While Bobcat manufactures compact construction equipment, its STEM giving is anything but. Bobcat and Doosan recently donated $3 million to North Dakota State University to fund a STEM scholarship program. With matching funds of $1.5 million from the state of North Dakota, the total scholarship fund will total $4.5 million, making it the single largest scholarship endowment gift in the university's history. The new STEM scholarship endowment will award $180,000 per year in scholarships for students majoring in STEM fields.
The Bobcat and Doosan gift to NDSU arose from the Education Challenge Fund, a scholarship match program passed by the North Dakota State Legislature in 2013. The program provides matching funds for scholarship endowments made to approved North Dakota institutions.
This new scholarship endowment is only the latest in a 10-year relationship between NDSU and Bobcat. In 2005, Bobcat and Doosan began a research partnership with the university, becoming a tenant at the university's technology incubator. Bobcat established a technology lab and a machine testing area at the facility. Bobcat has educational partnerships with other North Dakota institutions, including the North Dakota State College of Science and Bismarck State College.
It has been reported over and over that the U.S. faces a severe shortage of qualified scientists and engineers, and stories of companies recruiting overseas talent are well documented. Companies in science- and technology-dependent fields, such as construction equipment manufacturing, have increasingly recognized that funding STEM-related activities in higher education boost their public image and help foster the development of potential future employees.