SHU receives $25,000 grant from Sikorsky

Sacred Heart University has received a $25,000 grant from Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, for development of the engineering program the University launched last fall. The grant will help fund materials and parts for designing autonomous vehicles — such as microcontrollers, sensors and electronics — that will be used in the introductory engineering courses offered to freshmen.

In these courses, students will learn fundamentals of programming, controls and design. They also will build drones and cars that accomplish specific tasks, including obstacle avoidance, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi navigation, terrain-based challenges and drone flight.

“With the funds provided, every single freshman engineering student will be able to build and program two autonomous vehicles—a drone and a miniature car—and test these vehicles on custom-built indoor and outdoor obstacle courses,” said Tolga Kaya, SHU’s director of engineering programs.

This hands-on approach will help build confidence and skills students will need to succeed in higher-level engineering courses and also will lay the foundation for the University’s electrical engineering program that is expected to launch in 2019.

“Sacred Heart’s aims to develop engineering programs by engaging local industry partners in curriculum development and instruction to help ensure that our students graduate with work readiness, technical, and foundational skills valued and desired by local employers. We are really excited about this partnership with Sikorsky,” said Rupendra Paliwal, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at SHU.

The program began in fall 2017 with just 20 students. Without a dedicated lab space, this fledgling program engaged students in 10 events, including Maker Faire Westport, which 13,500 people attended. With SHU’s recent acquisition of the former GE campus, the University has committed to offering students Connecticut’s largest makerspace, with tools and equipment to enable creativity and innovation and foster engineering design processes. The former GE campus will be the hub of growth and innovation at SHU.

“We are proud to support the development of the engineering curriculum at Sacred Heart University,” said Woody Woodyard, Sikorsky’s vice president of communications. “As a local partner, Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, supports education initiatives with a strong emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.

“This grant enables Sacred Heart University to educate, train and graduate talented engineers, right here in Connecticut,” Woodyard said. “We have a number of Sacred Heart alumni at Sikorsky, and we look forward to a partnership that provides unique opportunities for our engineers to build relationships with students as role models and mentors.”

For more information on engineering at Sacred Heart University, visit

For more information on Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, visit


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