The University of Texas at Austin

Alumni at NI Pay it Forward to Support Student Projects


Longhorn alumni at National Instruments are helping the Cockrell School of Engineering make big strides toward building a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary learning center and laboratory space on the Forty Acres.

At the Longhorn-National Instruments Reception, on March 27, Dean Gregory Fenves recognized Dr. James Truchard, a UT alumnus, for his personal $10 million gift to build the National Instruments Student Project Center in the Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC). The event also marked the launch of the NI Longhorn Alumni at-work campaign to help fund and name the Measurement and Instrumentation Lab within the NI Student Project Center.

A $10 million investment from Dr. James Truchard (BS '64, MA '67, PhD '74) will name 23,000 feet of student project labs for the company he co-founded, National Instruments. Our student projects range from solar cars to satellites and robotics to biomedical sensors. The scope of these projects will expand exponentially in this new space.

National Instruments reception with Dean Gregory L. Fenves celebrating Dr. James Truchard's recent $10 million philanthropic gift to the Engineering Education and Research Center and the tremendous impact NI and its employees have on the Cockrell School of Engineering.

During the reception, Dean Fenves interviewed Truchard (Dr. T) about his memories as a curious young scientist, his passion for bringing engineering fundamentals to life for UT students with the EERC and what he sees on the horizon for National Instruments. Dr. T's investment in the Student Project Center will provide all engineering students the opportunity to pursue hands-on engineering projects during every year of their coursework. Typically, hands-on projects are not offered until the junior or senior year.

"We have to recreate the hands-on experience for students to bond with technology. If they don't understand the technology at the basic level, they are missing out. We have a shortage of engineers in the US. I hope our investment in the EERC will not only increase interest among students to pursue engineering, but also help them learn the principles of engineering in the best way possible," Truchard said.

The Longhorn-NI alumni plan is to raise $250,000 to name the Measurement and Instrumentation Lab in honor of Longhorns at National Instruments. So far, NI employees have raised $156,000. 

"This is about shared value. As NI employees, we benefit from the investment we are making in the EERC. It's not just about the NI instruments that these future engineers may be using, but more importantly that we are helping prepare future generations of engineers for the workplace with the best facilities possible," said Ray Almgren, NI Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Platform Adoption and UT Engineering alumus. 

National Instruments has a history of giving to the Cockrell School with past support including:

  • Donated more than $6 million to UT since 1976
  • Sponsor of and volunteers at "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day"
  • Founding member of ECE Connect
  • Wireless Networking and Communications Group
  • Women in Engineering Program
  • Leadershape Institute
  • 67 percent of NI-Longhorns have made a gift to UT
  • 56 percent have made a gift in the last four years
  • NI's LabView is freely available to all UT students
NI hire Zach Wilhoit describes  how the EERC will change student experience

NI hire Zach Wilhoit describes how the EERC will change student experience.

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National Instruments Co-Founder Contributes $10M to the EERC

In January, James Truchard announced his contribution of $10 million to help develop the Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC), which will house a new student-focused teaching lab. Read more.