The largest private gift in the state's history will support construction of a laboratory and classroom facility, to be called the Norm Asbjornson Innovation Center, that enables collaborative, hands-on teaching and learning. Open to all, the center will promote dynamic interdisciplinary engagement, meaningful student-faculty interaction, and accelerated innovation that responds to and anticipates emerging trends in education, industry, and society.
Asbjornson, a 1960 MSU mechanical engineering graduate, is the founder and president of AAON, a NASDAQ-traded heating, ventilation, and air conditioning manufacturer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A member and former chair of the MSU Alumni Foundation board of governors and a long-time member of the College of Engineering advisory council, Asbjornson was awarded an honorary doctorate in engineering from MSU and the Montana Board of Regents in 2004. His previous gifts to the college and the university include $1 million in 2003 to endow a scholarship fund for graduates from Montana high schools with fewer than a hundred students.
"The College of Engineering has been growing rapidly, and Norm's gift couldn't come at a better time to help us take our teaching, research and engagement to the next level," said Brett Gunnink, dean of the college. "As a successful engineer and businessman, Norm has seen first-hand how today's greatest challenges benefit from hands-on collaboration across academic disciplines. The building supported by this gift will be a game changer for our growing student body, for engineering education, and for research and economic development in Montana."