James Raisbeck has loved engineering since he was a boy growing up in Wisconsin building soap box derby cars with washing machine engines.
As a flight engineer in the U.S. Air Force, his enthusiasm for design shifted toward aviation.
“I was hooked, totally hooked on airplanes,” says the CEO and board chairman of Raisbeck Engineering Inc. in Seattle, Wash.
That love of airplanes has culminated in a $1 million gift from the Raisbeck Foundation to establish the Raisbeck Engineering Design/Build/Test Endowed Chair at Embry-Riddle. Housed in the Prescott Campus’ College of Engineering, the Raisbeck Chair is the first of its kind at the college.
The gift is a continuation of Raisbeck’s enduring interest in aviation and education. In 2013, James and his wife, Sherry, helped establish a permanent home for a science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and aviation-focused high school in the Seattle area, now called Raisbeck Aviation High School.
James says his gift to Embry-Riddle was inspired by the project-based, multidisciplinary education that engineering students receive at the Prescott Campus and the strong leadership of Chancellor Frank Ayers.
“Students have broad insight across, for example, engineering, piloting and management curricula. All of these elements are needed for building skills, which will serve students for a lifetime,” he says.
The endowed chair will provide funding for a faculty member who excels in teaching design/build/test methodologies with teams of students working together on projects. “This synergy of effort will ensure Embry-Riddle aerospace engineers are the best prepared to create the innovative designs of the future,” Ayers says. It will also build on the university’s strong tradition of engineering education, scholarship and research, and provide a continuum of aviation education that complements the Prescott Campus’ current educational ties with Raisbeck Aviation High School in Seattle.
Additionally, the Raisbeck Foundation contributed $75,000 toward the building of the new STEM Education Center at the Prescott Campus (see related article). The Engineering Design Studio at the center will be named in Raisbeck’s honor. The state-of-the-art space will allow for hands-on, team-based capstone engineering and multidisciplinary design experiences for students. Raisbeck is also facilitating the donation of a Raisbeck-designed swept blade turbofan propeller from Hartzell Propeller Inc., which will hang on display in the STEM Education Center.