Dr. Min Kao, of Garmin International, Inc., has made a $1 million gift through the Kao Family Foundation to support programs and scholarships at the University of Kansas School of Engineering. Half of the gift will create the Min H. Kao Engineering Design Studios, and half will establish the Garmin Excellence Scholarship in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In addition, a mentorship program will be established between University of Kansas engineering students and engineers at Garmin.
Dr. Kao is co-founder and executive chairman of Garmin Ltd., with U.S. headquarters located in Olathe, Kan. He earned a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee.
This gift adds to Dr. Kao’s past support for the KU School of Engineering, which exceeds $500,000 to date in scholarships.
“I am delighted to support the University of Kansas in its mission to educate its students and to encourage engineering and technology innovation,” said Dr. Kao. “Ensuring a highly-skilled engineering workforce is vital to the future of Garmin, the state of Kansas, and our nation as a whole.”
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said “This substantial gift helps the University of Kansas educate future leaders and represents a deepening of our relationship with Dr. Kao and Garmin.” Garmin is one of 29 tenants in the Bioscience & Technology Business Center at the University of Kansas and has hired numerous KU engineering and computing students to work part-time at the facility while they complete their degrees. At least 20 have gone on to full-time employment with Garmin.
Dean of Engineering Michael Branicky said, “Dr. Kao’s gift supports our students and our goal to provide more top quality engineers to Kansas industry. We are excited by the many opportunities a gift of this magnitude affords.”
Glenn Prescott, chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, said, “Dr. Kao’s generous support of the studios will strengthen our capstone experiences for students, enhancing learning and industry readiness. Capstone courses require seniors to use their full knowledge as they design a project prior to graduation, and are critical to a graduate’s early success in the workforce. Providing a state-of-the-art workspace, such as these design studios, will be a definite advantage.”
The gift counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.