The inspiration for the gift began on the Coulters' ranch in Bozeman, Montana, where David Coulter recognized that local mining and agricultural industry workers required high-tech skills to operate and maintain machinery used on the job. Through conversations with staff at the university's NextManufacturing Center, an advanced manufacturing initiative that includes additive manufacturing (more commonly known as 3D printing), Coulter's idea of vocational training evolved into a more expansive concept that combines traditional skill development with new technologies.
To that end, the Coulters' gift will support the university's first endowed department chair as well as construction of a new Scaife Hall to house the department. When finished, the building will feature state-of-the-art classrooms, tech-driven labs, and flexible, collaborative work spaces. A former vice chair of JPMorgan Chase and Co. and chair of Bank of America, Coulter, together with his wife, previously contributed $5 million to establish the university’s David and Susan Coulter Welcome Center.
"At Carnegie Mellon, we often speak about how our strengths in deep disciplinary knowledge truly take flight when we collaborate across disciplines," said Coulter. "I feel like we're doing that real-time with this project, and I see our involvement as an alumni-prototype for these cross-disciplinary projects. We're proud to support both the Tepper School of Business as well as the College of Engineering, and I am excited to see what the Mechanical Engineering Department will achieve."