Muskegon – An MCC Distinguished Alumnus and his wife, Richard H and Ann U. Kraft, have donated $300,000 to the Foundation for Muskegon Community College (FMCC) to support a key component of the college’s Rooks|Sarnicola Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies in downtown Muskegon.
The gift, which is the largest single non-corporate gift to MCC, was formally presented at the FMCC Board of Directors Aug. 18 meeting on campus. The funds will be used to equip the newly named Richard H. and Ann U. Kraft Rapid Prototype Center.
The state-of-the-art room, more popularly called a “fab lab,” will house a high-end 3-D printer, three midrange 3-D printers, a 3-D digital scanner, 15 student CAD (Computer-Aided Design) stations and instructor space, explained David Stradal, the MCC Business Department chair and director of the college’s Entrepreneurial Studies Program.
Stradal lauded the Krafts’ generosity and commitment to the college and the community.
“Their generosity will give the community the ability to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in grades K-12, as well as advanced digital product innovation capabilities for our businesses, and 3-D prototype capabilities for our community inventors,” he said.
Kraft, a 1949 MCC graduate, went on to earn a degree in civil engineering. He started his own consulting and engineering firm in Flint, Michigan, and enjoyed a successful 55-year career. A loyal philanthropist and avid supporter of MCC, he and his family have long supported scholarships and capital projects on campus. He received the 2007 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the MCC Alumni Association.
“I went to Muskegon Junior College (Muskegon Community College) in 1947 after high school and found it a more affordable way to begin my college education,” explained Kraft. “I still believe that MCC is the most affordable way.
“My gift to the Entrepreneur Program at MCC today reflects the fact that the foundation for my career started right here. Pre-engineering courses completed here before going on to Michigan State University lowered the cost of my entire college experience. I like to encourage today’s students to take a similar advantage of the community college as a great way to start their career paths.”
“We are grateful to the Kraft family for their steadfast support of MCC,” said Amy Swope, the FMCC executive director. “Over the years, they have donated more than a half-million dollars, the largest cumulative non-corporate donation to the college. If you look, you’ll see the Kraft name across our campus. We really can’t thank them enough for their long-term and ongoing dedication to student success.”
Stradal envisions the Kraft Fab Lab and the Rooks|Sarnicola Institute as a dynamic environment for Muskegon-area entrepreneurs of all ages to take their concepts to the next level.
“I see entrepreneurs, whether they be young or old, bringing ideas in to work out problems or to have them transformed from a napkin to a physical product,” he explained. “It’s a place where entrepreneurs learn how to bring a product to the market. A place where brands are born and mistakes become shared learning experiences.
“I see a fab lab that has its own making capabilities, but is surrounded by MCC’s applied technology center which brings larger capacities and, more importantly, the expertise of our faculty to help. From the small to the big, from the simple to the complex, we will be able to make almost anything.
“I see engineers from area companies coming evenings and weekends to work through prototype after prototype when kicking around an idea for a new product. I see medical personnel building prosthetic limbs with embedded electronic movement. And connected to the global fab lab network, we will be able to tap into ideas and help around the world.
“I see programs for kindergarteners through high school, from all communities, and all abilities, learning about business, sales, and entrepreneurship, as well as how to use computer controlled equipment. There will be no limits placed on their imaginations. All will discover that they can do it.”
The MCC Downtown Center, which includes the Rooks|Sarnicola Institute, is currently undergoing renovations and is scheduled to open in Fall 2017.