College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Gift creates Steffenson Professorship, engineering scholarships

Iowa State University’s College of Engineering has received a gift commitment of $700,000 from Mike and Jean Steffenson of Davenport, Iowa.

The Iowa State graduates have established funds for a variety of uses within the College of Engineering including the Steffenson Professorship in Chemical Engineering. The couple will provide $125,000 over the next five years to initially fund the professorship before eventually creating an endowment for the named faculty position.

Brent Shanks, professor of chemical and biological engineering, will be the inaugural recipient of the Steffenson Professorship. Shanks also serves as the director of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals at Iowa State.

A 1983 graduate of Iowa State, Shanks also holds master’s and PhD degrees from the California Institute of Technology. Prior to joining the Iowa State faculty he was a research engineer and department manager for the Shell Chemical Company. He is the recipient of numerous teaching and research awards and his research interests include the catalytic conversion of biorenewable feedstocks.

In addition, the Steffensons have committed $25,000 to provide up to five, $5,000 scholarships in the College of Engineering’s department of chemical and biological engineering for the next academic year. Recipients will be chemical and biological engineering students who are involved in major leadership roles within the college and Iowa State. Another $50,000 has been gifted by the couple to the College of Engineering for a use to be determined at a later date.

“The educational and research programs in the department of chemical and biological engineering have been greatly strengthened by the generosity and commitment of Mike and Jean Steffenson,” said Jonathan Wickert, dean of the College of Engineering. “Positions such as the Steffenson Professorship in Chemical Engineering enable the college and department to further develop the careers of our elite faculty members.”

Mike Steffenson is the president, chairman and CEO of Parr Instrument Company, a privately held corporation that engages in the design, manufacture and sale of laboratory instruments and apparatus for testing fuels and for conducting chemical reactions and tests under heat and pressure. He is a 1959 graduate of Iowa State with a degree in chemical engineering.

Jean Steffenson is a 1960 zoology graduate of Iowa State and the daughter of Manley R. Hoppe, who established the Manley R. Hoppe Professorship in Chemical Engineering at Iowa State through his estate. That position is currently held by Jacqueline Vanni Shanks, professor of chemical and biological engineering.

“This is an opportunity for us to make an immediate impact on the department of chemical and biological engineering, its faculty and students,” Mike Steffenson said.

The gift is part of Campaign Iowa State: With Pride and Purpose, the university’s $800 million fund-raising effort.

Eric Dieterle, College of Engineering, 515-294-4881
Dave Gieseke, ISU Foundation Communications, 515-294-7263