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Burns & McDonnell donates study center in Engineering Library

Burns & McDonnell, an international engineering firm with headquarters in Kansas City, donated funds to match its employees’ gifts to build a study center in UNL’s Engineering Library. At a celebration Nov. 4, the space was dedicated as employees of the company—including a group of Nebraska Engineering alumni—visited UNL to see what their donations created.

According to Interim Engineering Librarian Tracy Bicknell-Holmes, the Burns & McDonnell Study Center is a 750-square-foot, glass-enclosed commons which includes a 42-inch computer monitor to which students can connect laptops and display their work in a larger format or share for interactive team collaborations.

College of Engineering Dean Tim Wei was joined by Dean of Libraries Joan Giesecke and Matt McNair, University of Nebraska Foundation vice president and UNL campus director of development, in welcoming the benefit to students. Wei said an engineering library is a hallmark of top engineering schools and McNair said the enhancement makes the facility more attractive to prospective students as Nebraska joins the Big Ten engineering schools. Giesecke said the renovation's mediascape was patterned after technology used by Husker Athletics: "If athletes have access to this level of technology to use, then engineers should have it, too."

Burns & McDonnell Senior Vice President and Chief Technical Officer Greg Gould, P.E. said, “I’m a 1975 graduate in Mechanical Engineering and have spent my entire career at Burns & McDonnell. I’m very appreciative of the education I received at UNL and how well it prepared me for a successful career."

Gould estimated that nearly 100 UNL graduates work for Burns & McDonnell in Kansas City or its other offices across the nation. The firm is employee-owned, Gould added, with only active employees as owners: each sharing in the company’s collective success.

"I’ve given donations to the university's Foundation and was very excited when the opportunity arose for my fellow employee-owners and the company to combine our donations to create something with a tangible benefit to the engineering students at UNL.” He added, “I think a study area in the library will provide a long term benefit to the students.”

Tom Dowse, a recent UNL graduate who works in civil engineering with Burns & McDonnell, said, “Our goal for this gift to Nebraska Engineering is to provide a comfortable space that is both conducive to studying and available for collaboration.”

“It’s great to see my fellow coworkers rally around a single cause that will improve the study environment for current students,” said Meghan Lyons, an electrical engineer with Burns & McDonnell who graduated from UNL. “I spent many a long night doing homework or studying for tests in the College of Engineering Library (and) am happy to see that current and future students will benefit from some of the enhancements created by our donation.”

The Burns & McDonnelll Study Center at the UNL Engineering Library is available for use. See for hours of operation and resources.

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