$9.3 Million O’Donnell Foundation Gift to Support Students, Teaching, and Faculty

Nov. 5, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas — The O’Donnell Foundation has committed $9.3 million to the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) at The University of Texas at Austin to support student fellowships, faculty teaching and faculty recruiting.

ICES, an international leader in computer modeling and simulation development, will apply the funds during the next five years in three areas:

  • $1.3 million to participating university departments to hire additional faculty members to supplement teaching in the ICES multidisciplinary graduate program, which draws from 18 university departments;
  • $5 million in endowment funds with earnings used to support newly hired faculty members for their first five years.

“Peter O'Donnell has a long history of being not only one of the university's most generous supporters but also one of its most strategic,” said University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers. “He has proved this once again with this gift that will have an enormous impact on the lives of students, the lives of faculty and the life of The University of Texas at Austin.”

ICES develops and teaches a relatively new discipline that combines mathematical modeling, applied mathematics, software engineering and computational visualization. The Institute is a unique organizational unit, dedicated to both research and graduate study in an interdisciplinary environment.

"This generous gift is crucially important to our faculty recruiting efforts and to the growth and quality of our graduate degree program,” said J. Tinsley Oden, ICES director. “The continued and generous support of the O'Donnell Foundation is greatly appreciated."

The O’Donnell Foundation, started by Peter and Edith O’Donnell, is the fifth largest independent foundation in Dallas. It primarily supports engineering, science and math education at the graduate level along with arts programs in higher education. The O’Donnell Foundation, along with Peter and his wife, Edith, have given more than $135 million to the university since 1983. This includes 159 endowments for student fellowships, faculty support and graduate education programs.

An average of 75 students are enrolled in the ICES graduate program annually, and 42 professors currently serve as ICES core faculty members. The more than $90 million in research projects conducted by faculty members and students include:

  • Cardiovascular disease-related research to develop computer simulations to improve surgical repair of the heart’s mitral valve, one of the aging heart’s key points of failure, and a second project to develop a computational growth and remodeling model of the enlargement of the heart’s right ventricle caused by high blood pressure;
  • Energy research to develop computer software to design and discover materials for low-cost energy applications such as economical battery materials to capture solar energy and materials that convert water to hydrogen using sunlight;
  • Medical equipment research to develop computational methods that will improve the design of MRI systems for high-resolution mapping of the human brain;
  • Chemical engineering research to develop computational methods that predict the structure and properties of membranes used in water purification applications and fuel cells;

For more information, contact: Becky Rische, Institute for Computational Engineering and Science, 512 471 4978;  Monica Kortsha, Institute for Computational Engineering and Science, 512-232-8102.