Inspiring a Younger Generation to Invest in the NAE's Frontiers of Engineering

Donor Story | September 1, 2021

Frances (Fran) and George Ligler and Robyn and Robert (Rob) Wagoner have joined forces to fund a $200,000 matching gift challenge for the Frontiers of Engineering (FOE) Program. The Ligler-Wagoner Challenge for Frontiers of Engineering's (The FOE Challenge) goal is to ensure that the FOE continues and enhances its mission of bringing together the most promising young engineers to foster cross-disciplinary research collaborations that can last a lifetime. Gifts to the Wagoner Endowed Fund or the FOE general fund will qualify for a dollar-for-dollar match, doubling a donor's impact, until December 2024 or until the match is reached.

The FOE program brings together a select group of emerging engineering leaders from industry, academia, and government to discuss pioneering technical work and leading-edge research in various engineering fields and industry sectors. FOE alumni, friends, and donors who join the Ligler-Wagoner FOE Challenge by making a gift or pledge will provide critical discretionary funding for FOE to enhance existing alumni networking opportunities and collaboration efforts.  

Robert and Robyn WagonerFor the past 27 years, Janet Hunziker has served as Program Director for FOE. During her tenure, she has overseen more than 80 symposia and connected with over 4,800 participants. Without her dedicated support and service, FOE would not be the program that it is today. Take advantage of the opportunity to make a tribute gift in honor of Janet for her steadfast leadership and growth of the program. "My sense of wonder and admiration for Janet and FOE is as strong today as it was 25 years ago. We hope and intend to honor Janet for her long, selfless dedication to fashioning this terrific program," remarks Rob Wagoner. The Liglers share similar sentiments about Janet's work, "we were inspired by Janet's extraordinary service to the engineering profession in directing the program."

Fran and George Ligler have been long-time supporters of the NAE and FOE Program.  They have both nominated engineers who have participated in the annual FOE Symposia, and they have received very positive feedback about the program from those participants. "The Frontiers of Engineering Program has been on the leading edge of promoting interdisciplinary engineering across engineering work sectors. We see the future of engineering as increasingly interdisciplinary and the FOE Program as supporting if not accelerating this trend," comments George Ligler.  

Frances and George LiglerRob Wagoner's passion for the FOE started early in his NAE years when, as a newly elected member, he participated in the first FOE symposium. "Attending was a wonderful, eye-opening experience – besides being a lot of fun! FOE is the most meaningful cross-disciplinary program that we have seen for young engineers." The Wagoners' involvement in FOE has spanned the last 26 years. Rob's initial participation in 1995 grew to organizing committee member in 1996, chair from 1997-1999, and co-chairing of the inaugural JAFOE meetings in 2000 and 2002. "There has never been a question whether we wanted to assist the FOE program," comments Rob.

The Liglers and Wagoners believe in the FOE Program and its impact on early to mid-career engineers. The Ligler-Wagoner FOE Challenge was established to inspire past program participants to pay it forward and create more opportunities for future generations of engineers.  As Janet Hunziker says, "it's all about the wonderful people who bring their enthusiasm and innovative ideas to the meetings. This program provides them with a unique opportunity for conversations with other highly accomplished, creative people whom they would not otherwise meet, opening new ways of thinking and opportunities for collaboration."

Learn more about the Ligler-Wagoner Challenge for Frontiers of Engineering and how you can get involved.