“The generous support of the Pritzker Foundation will enable us to both deepen and broaden our efforts in areas of global significance, such as sustainability and natural resources, advanced materials design, and translational systems biology,” said Matthew Tirrell, the founding Pritzker director and dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. “Our mission is to develop solutions to problems that have a profound effect on humanity and quality of life. This gift provides critical support to address the spectrum of areas where we can make a difference.”
Commitment to the future of molecular engineering
The Pritzker Foundation is providing a new gift of $75 million to create the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, bringing its combined contributions for molecular engineering at UChicago to $100 million. The previous gifts supported the founding of the Institute for Molecular Engineering and the construction of the Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility.
The Pritzker Foundation has long been a generous supporter of the University. In addition to its support for the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, the Pritzker Foundation has provided important support of Urban Labs, the Urban Education Institute and the Institute of Politics Pritzker Fellows Program during the University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact. The Pritzker School of Medicine was named for the Pritzkers in 1968, and they have continued to support it since that time. The Foundation has also generously provided support for the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and South Asian Studies.
Training a new generation
A new field of engineering requires a new form of education. The molecular engineering program at UChicago has been a leader in pioneering new ways to train scientists and engineers, such as the Quantum Information Science and Engineering Network, a nationwide program that groups graduate students with an academic advisor and one from a leading national laboratory or technology company.
“For nascent fields, such as the emerging discipline of quantum engineering, today’s approach to educating students is not sufficient to prepare scientists and engineers for competitive careers in industry or academia,” said David Awschalom, the Liew Family professor in molecular engineering who holds a joint appointment in the Materials Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory. “Scientific teams need to be grounded in a variety of disciplines—not just physics and chemistry, but also electrical engineering, materials research and computer science. This integration is precisely how our program in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering is designed. Students trained here will become the quantum-ready workforce of tomorrow.”
The University and Pritzker Foundation saw an important opportunity through the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering to grow support for Chicago-area students interested in science, technology, math, and engineering. This includes launching a new partnership with City Colleges of Chicago, bringing together the resources of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering with City College students interested in pursuing a four-year degree in STEM fields. The intensive, multi-year program, which will be piloted with Truman and Kennedy-King colleges, will connect students to the faculty and labs at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering as well as college readiness and admissions counseling, with the goal of growing the number of City College students able to transfer into a four-year STEM degree program.
The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering will continue to build its current K-12 programs, which already include events and internships throughout the year—from helping third-graders extract DNA from bananas to introducing middle schoolers to the fundamentals of molecular engineering.