Michigan Technological University’s Physics Department sees itself poised on the brink of greatness. Richard and Elizabeth Henes agree. Longtime and generous supporters of Michigan Tech, the couple has donated another $700,000 to the University to upgrade research facilities in Fisher Hall., including infrastructure improvements.
“This latest gift will help Michigan Tech continue to build an outstanding physics department that is working at the cutting edge of modern physics,” said Michigan Tech president Glenn D. Mroz.
Building and improving laboratories and infrastructure helps attract and retain researchers at the forefront of their fields, he explained. Both goals are priorities of a $200 million capital campaign now under way.
Michigan Tech currently has interdisciplinary strengths across the university in areas of quantum phenomena, largely nanotechnology and computing. This new gift will set the stage for greater emphasis in the area where quantum physics meets biology. This interdisciplinary work will define this century’s advances in technology.
The Department of Physics is already making quite a reputation for itself.
“Physics is one of the most research-active departments in the College of Sciences and Arts,” said Ravindra Pandey, chair of physics. “Three of Michigan Tech’s last four annual faculty research awards have gone to physics researchers. “
Pandey added: “We are deeply grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Henes for providing state-of-the-art research facilities where our faculty and students can pursue 21st century physics, involving quantum mechanics. Their gift creates an unprecedented opportunity to advance quantum physics research at Michigan Tech.”
The gift is the first step toward establishing a Henes Institute of Quantum Phenomena. Its mission will be to provide national leadership in investigation of processes linked together on the interdisciplinary theme of “quantum world,” said Pandey.
Henes, a mechanical engineering alumnus, and his wife have also endowed a chair in mechanical engineering and a professorship in mathematical sciences, as well as an endowed scholarship at Michigan Tech. Shuanglin Zhang holds the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Professorship in Mathematical Sciences. A search is under way to fill the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Chair in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis on energy systems, as part of a current Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative in Next Generation Energy Systems.
A native of Menominee, Henes earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech in 1948, followed by a law degree from the University of Michigan. After moving to Arizona, he founded Henes Manufacturing Co., Henes Products and Henes Stamping. He also became a successful real estate investor in Phoenix. He and his wife now divide their time between Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Ariz.
The couple is committed to helping the University prepare the next generation to compete in a demanding technological world.
“I believe that advances in physics and math will provide the basic information to support technical advances in all areas at Michigan Tech,” said Henes. “I would really like to see this happen.”
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