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Washington State University
The Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

2010 Platinum Laureate: Voiland Contribution Furthers Engineering Research and Education

The largest one-time commitment by an individual donor in the University’s history is paving the way for WSU to have one of the nation’s leading chemical engineering programs focused on renewable energy innovations. The naming of the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering honors the Voilands’ revolutionary $17.5 million commitment to WSU. This remarkable gift will enable WSU to build on existing strengths and attract exceptional students and faculty to conduct research in catalytic systems for renewable fuels and sustainable energy. This historic gift will ensure that future generations of WSU students will have access to a truly transformative chemical engineering education.

Video Transcript

Gene Voiland: “We believe in giving back and I was very successful in my career but I was very successful really because of some people at WSU and the education I got there.”

Text: Gene & Linda Voiland, 2010 Platinum Laureate, Washington State University Foundation

Linda Voiland: “There was a specific need that came out of the school, out of the school, out of the college.”

James Petersen (Chemical Engineering professor and Director of the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering): “Gene and Linda have made a series of gifts to the school, the latest gift has had a huge impact on the school. It has allowed us to hire a world-class faculty member.”

Gene Voiland: “We have basically hired a number of professors and world-class people to do world-class research and teaching.”

James Petersen: “As a result, the US News rankings of the school have risen 18 points in the last two years. The students who graduate from an institution with a high reputation have better potential for jobs and if the department has a high reputation we can do a better job of attracting outstanding students. Not only have the student numbers gone up, the student quality has gone up and the fraction of women has increased. Right now, 30 percent of the juniors and seniors in chemical engineering are women. This is about twice the national average.”

Aime Feero (Senior, Chemical Engineering): “You could do anything with chemical engineering. You don’t have to sit in the lab and be next to the distillation column with your hard hat and all that sort of stuff, but you can go into entrepreneurship or design. There are so many options and I think that is what is appealing to so many women.”

Linda Voiland: “If we turn out the students that we think that we can to do the things that we think they can do, they will be better off for it, the rest of the world will be better off for it.”

Gene Voiland: “I think the big thing is is that whenever someone works with world-class people and are trained by them and learn how they do their business, they’re going to accomplish something. Who knows where they might be a difference, but I know they will.”

Stephen Davidson (PhD candidate, Chemical Engineering): “My project is cobalt catalyzed ethanol steam reform. It’s effectively a process that converts ethanol into hydrogen. The current process takes natural gas and turns it into hydrogen. The obvious benefit here is we can always make more ethanol and there are so many better things you can use natural gas for than for just making hydrogen.”

Gene Voiland: “What I really like is I like the quality of the people. It’s more than the institution. It’s the people. That’s who talks to you is the professor or the researcher.”

Linda Voiland: “I think the thing that strikes me is they’re just real people. They’re very approachable and if I’d had a few people like that when I was going to school, it really would have made an impact.”

Gene Voiland: “I think that’s a lot of what WSU is always about. There is a passion in the school. Sometimes, you know, with really big universities you’re part of something big but you don’t feel like it and this has a very friendly, warm feeling and people care.”

James Petersen: “The undergraduate students that we’re educating are being educated by outstanding scholars interacting with world leaders. All of this I directly attribute to the gift and the vision that Gene and Linda have.”

Aime Feero: “Thank you for supporting the school and making an effort to continue to support the students as well. Not only the money which is obviously a great gift too but the continual support that it will be, I would say thank you for that.”

Gene Voiland: “The way I view it is that we’re making an investment in the future.”

Linda Voiland: “It’s an investment in our kids. It’s an investment in the long-term standing of the school. I think that it will attract world-class students.”

Gene Voiland: “We really believe in WSU.”

Text: Gene & Linda Voiland, 2010 Platinum Laureate, Washington State University Foundation