News Service


James Melsa, Engineering, (515) 294-5935
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- John R. Selby, retired chairman and CEO of SPS Technologies Inc., Jenkintown, Pa., has made a $211,000 challenge gift toward construction of Iowa State University's Engineering Teaching and Research Complex (ETRC).

"We are excited about John's gift, and the resulting matching dollars will move this important project another major step forward to realization," said ISU Engineering Dean James Melsa.

The largest capital project in ISU history, the ETRC is financed through a combination of state, federal and private funds. The private gifts from alumni and friends are part of the ISU Foundation's Campaign Destiny: To Become the Best, the largest fund-raising drive in ISU history. University officials announced the campaign's extension to $425 million after its original $300 million goal was exceeded Sept. 15. This amount, to be reached by the campaign's end June 30, 2000, continues to provide funding for projects associated with ISU's strategic plan to become the best land-grant university in the nation.

For the College of Engineering, becoming the best focuses around the ETRC. The facility consists of two complexes flanking the east and wide sides of Bissell Road. Construction began in fall 1997 on phase I, named Stanley and Helen Howe Hall, in honor of the Muscatine, Iowa, couple who made a lead gift for the project. Completion is scheduled in the Fall of 1999.

Selby, a 1956 ISU engineering graduate, made his gift to ETRC as a challenge to other Iowa State alumni to raise the $4.5 million needed to complete funding of phase II, a priority for both the college and ISU. The goal is to begin construction of phase II in the Fall of 1999 with completion set for late 2001.

When completed, the ETRC will provide 264,000-gross-square-feet of space. It will include high-tech classrooms, lecture halls and auditoriums with multi-media and distance learning equipment; labs for technology research; the C2 virtual reality room; a wind tunnel for teaching and research; and communications technologies linking Iowa State University to schools, community colleges, engineers and industry.

"The ETRC concept is extraordinarily good," said Selby, a Marston Medal Award recipient and former member of the Engineering College Industry Advisory Council. "It will be a facility that has the flexibility to assure the best practices in providing engineering learning experiences and breakthrough research for generations to come. I feel quite privileged to contribute to this exceptionally worthy project."

Selby began his career as an industrial engineer for Lennox Industries. He also has held top positions with The Trane Co. as well as Emerson Electric and its U.S. Electrical Motors Division. He joined SPS Technologies as president and CEO in 1971.

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