University of Pittsburgh
March 9, 2003

$1.4 Million Gift Creates Swanson Center of Micro and Nano Systems in University of Pittsburgh School of Engineering

Contact:  412-624-4147

March 10, 2003

PITTSBURGH—A big gift is helping the University of Pittsburgh's School of Engineering to investigate small things.

Through a $1.4 million gift from John A. Swanson, the school will create the John A. Swanson Center for Micro and Nano Systems. Swanson, who earned the Ph.D. in applied mechanics from Pitt in 1966, is the founder of ANSYS Inc.

The new center is the second established by a gift from Swanson. The first, the Swanson Center for Product Innovation, comprises four laboratories that enable student inventors and associated researchers to develop products from ideas to prototypes and, in some instances, to small-scale production runs.

"John Swanson's generosity has allowed the School of Engineering to advance its educational and research initiatives and has provided essential resources for students, faculty, alumni, and industry. His gifts have been integral to the outstanding progress of our school," said Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of the School of Engineering. "The Swanson Center for Product Innovation has worked on more than 120 individual projects from more than 50 different companies and is one of the most successful initiatives the school has undertaken."

Like the Swanson Center for Product Innovation, the new Swanson Center for Micro and Nano Systems will give companies and researchers access to micro and nano systems equipment, technology, and services that include modeling and simulation, design, fabrication, and systems integration, services that were previously unavailable. The new center will work in tandem with the Swanson Center for Product Innovation, but it will focus more on applied research than on traditional product development.

"This fertile area of research will certainly spawn novel and even revolutionary technologies," said Tom Cain, executive director of the Swanson Center for Micro and Nano Systems and professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. "An example of this micro and nano technology is the PENI Tag, a radio frequency identification chip developed by Electrical Engineering Professor Marlin Mickle that has the potential to be a replacement for the current bar coding system."

The new center also will establish a formal structure of expertise that will become a highly visible research group locally, nationally, and internationally.

"The center brings together the expertise of 18 School of Engineering faculty performing research in micro and nano technologies," said Mike Lovell, executive director of the Swanson Center for Product Innovation and associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. "This type of center will allow member companies to gain access more readily to the research being performed, and it is a wonderful opportunity for students and faculty to collaborate across traditional departmental boundaries."

The two Swanson centers will be housed in the recently established John A. Swanson Institute for Technical Excellence, under the co-direction of Cain and Lovell.

The Swanson gift marks the 101st donation of $1 million or more to the University of Pittsburgh's Discover a World of Possibilities fundraising campaign. The campaign total to date is $560 million; the total fundraising goal is $1 billion.