PTC, INC., ONE OF THE WORLD’S largest and fastest growing software companies, is a major supporter of CSE’s innovation and entrepreneurship.

“If we want America to continue to lead in the 21st century, there is nothing more important than a continued focus on innovation,” said Jim Heppelmann (ME ’87), PTC president and CEO. “By getting today’s top students passionate about careers in STEM, we create the pipeline of talent necessary to develop the leading technologies that will continue to be the backbone of our economy as well as our security and quality of life.”

Support for the Solar Vehicle Project

PTC’s donation of PTC Creo, a computer-aided design software worth $2 million, proved to be a valuable tool in helping this year’s Solar Vehicle Project team. Thanks to PTC Creo, the student team was able to model many parts of the car, from the shell to the battery casing and more. The software allowed the students to easily coordinate plans and even look back at previous years’ designs for inspiration. Racing more than 3,000 kilometers across the Australian Outback, the team placed fourth in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in the Cruiser Class. The car, “Daedalus,” now sits in the lobby of PTC headquarters in Boston.

Support for scholarships

Since Fall 2009, PTC has sponsored eight annual scholarships of $5,000 per year to students enrolled in the College of Science and Engineering. The scholarships are renewable for a total of $20,000 over four years for CSE students who participated in at least one full season on a FIRST Robotics Competition team in high school.

Frans Elliott is a CSE student studying electrical engineering and computer science who received a FIRST Robotics scholarship. “I had such a great time in FIRST, I decided I never wanted to stop working with robots,” he said. “I plan to go to graduate school. Beyond that, I don’t know whether I’ll seek a Ph.D. and go into academia or just go into the ‘real world.’ No matter what I do, I want to work with robots because of FIRST and because of this scholarship.”

Another recipient is Maggie Nelson, a CSE student who serves as the Society of Women Engineers outreach director. “Having been involved in FIRST Robotics, a continued desire to share knowledge and work in groups has driven me to stay involved in outreach events to middle and high school students,” she said. “If I can inspire a student to pursue a new idea or start developing a passion for learning through teamwork, I have played a role in helping them discover their interests, as much as FIRST helped me find mine.”

Engineering program support

In addition to supporting the Solar Vehicle Project and providing student scholarships, PTC gives financial support to a number of CSE engineering programs. Heppelmann also serves on the CSE Dean’s Advisory Board.

“The University has played a big role in my life and my career. I met my wife there when we were both mechanical engineering undergrads.” he said. “I always felt that the University of Minnesota armed me well to succeed in the business world. After a great career start out of college, two other CSE alumni joined me in starting an engineering software company. We had a lot of success together and after we were acquired by PTC, our software became the market leader and core to PTC’s portfolio. Even though PTC is Boston-based with more than 6,000 employees, our top recruiting school has become the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering.”