$5 million gift for Engineering

Feb. 25, 2022

Gift from alumnus Martin Vanderploeg creates four Engineering funds 

A $5 million gift from a mechanical engineering alumnus creates one endowed chair, two endowed professorships, and an expendable research support fund in the College of Engineering.

Martin Vanderploeg has committed $5 million to Engineering and $12 to MSU.
Alumnus Martin Vanderploeg commits $5 million to Engineering and an additional $12 million to MSU.

The investment from Martin J. Vanderploeg, a technology pioneer and president and chief executive officer of Workiva Inc., will advance the scholarly contributions of senior- and junior-level faculty in engineering while creating new opportunities for students to learn from and collaborate with esteemed professors. Vanderploeg made an additional $12 million gift to create the Vanderploeg Scholars Program to support first-generation students at MSU. Read more at: MSUToday.

Vanderploeg earned bachelor’s (1978), master’s (1980) and doctorate (1982) degrees in mechanical engineering from MSU. His four investments, totaling $5 million, will provide for:

• A $2 million endowment to create the Martin J. Vanderploeg Endowed Chair in Mechanical Engineering and an additional $1 million to establish the Martin J. Vanderploeg Endowed Professorship in the College of Engineering. Endowed chairs and professorships represent some of the highest levels of faculty distinction and help the college bring in national-caliber talent for teaching and research.

• A $1 million endowment to honor Vanderploeg’s father, Marvin, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1956. The investment establishes the Marvin L. VanDerPloeg Endowed Professorship in Mechanical Engineering.

• The fourth gift is $1 million to create the Martin J. Vanderploeg Research Support Fund in the College of Engineering, an expendable research fund to enhance and strengthen the scope and scale of research capabilities. The fund will be directed by the college’s associate dean for research and will be used to support advanced research equipment and tenure system faculty research activities. Additionally, it will help enhance grantsmanship to win larger and more prestigious research grants.

MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., offered thanks on behalf of the university.

“A great faculty is the heart of our creative enterprise and these endowed positions and the research support fund will enable us to attract and retain faculty leaders who are on the cutting edge of discovery,” President Stanley said. “We are profoundly grateful for the support and generosity of Marty Vanderploeg. It is fitting and an honor that MSU will be able to acknowledge the contributions of Marty and his father, Marvin, with these positions and resources.”

Engineering Dean Leo Kempel said the addition of highly sought faculty experts is a remarkable opportunity for the department, college, and university.

MSU Engineering Building
MSU Engineering Building

“Michigan State has been preparing talented engineers to tackle society’s grand challenges for generations, and our incredible alumni continue to forge a path for future Spartans to build on this legacy. I am very grateful to Marty for this very significant investment in our college,” Kempel continued. “I am particularly pleased that some of these resources will be used for rotating endowed professorships, as all the departments in the College of Engineering are in a very competitive market for talent at all levels of experience.”

Tamara Reid Bush, interim chair of mechanical engineering, called Vanderploeg’s philanthropic interests in mechanical engineering extraordinary.

“This major gift will help grow our department,” she said. “This growth will expand our ability to make contributions to research and teaching, while fostering the development of Spartan Engineers for years to come. We are very grateful for his thoughtfulness and support.”

Martin J. Vanderploeg

Martin (Marty) J. Vanderploeg, PhD, is the president and CEO of Workiva Inc., a $350 million cloud-based software technology company with an open, intelligent, and intuitive platform that simplifies complex work for global organizations. Vanderploeg co-founded Workiva to transform the way people manage and report business data.

He is an entrepreneur known for his leadership in the technology sector, including developing computer assisted design software used in medical and forensic applications. Prior to serving as CEO, Vanderploeg served as president and chief operating officer of Workiva and its predecessor, Webfilings.

Previously, Vanderploeg co-founded Engineering Animations Inc. and served as the company’s chief technology officer. As chief technical officer, he led EAI’s’ development of computer graphics tools used in crime scene reconstruction, 3D animations of human anatomy, CAD applications in automotive design and computer games as well as other applications. EAI was acquired in 2000 by Unigraphics Solutions (now part of Siemens USA).

Vanderploeg was a tenured professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University from 1985-1993, where he founded and directed Iowa State’s Visualization Laboratory. He has authored 19 publications in the area of design optimization and vehicle dynamics, mechanical engineering software applications, biomechanics and graphic animation.