Quarter million dollar gift by local Wayne State alums fuels university's "urban mission" for future global engineering leaders

Detroit - Detroit businessman and Bloomfield Hills resident Avinash Rachmale and one of his professional colleagues, Farmington Hills resident Andrew Haliw III, both Wayne State University engineering alumni, have pledged a total of $250,000 to the WSU College of Engineering’s new facility, the Marvin I. Danto Engineering Development Center. The combined contribution is the first major commitment from individual donors to Wayne State since Dr. Jay Noren became president a month ago.

Rachmale is founder, president and CEO of Detroit-based Lakeshore Engineering Services, Inc. (LES). "I am proud to be a WSU graduate and feel very fortunate to be able to provide this gift,” commented Rachmale. “Because of the outstanding education I received from WSU, I was able to build a world-renowned construction firm right here in Detroit. Now I am in a position to give back to my school and support its commitment to the inner city as well as provide opportunities for a wonderfully diverse student body."

The contribution supports a laboratory specially designed for the college’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Marvin I. Danto Engineering Development Center, currently under construction on the university’s Detroit campus. The Civil Engineering Infrastructure Research Laboratory will expand exploration in the department’s five areas of specialization: structural, environmental, geo-technical and transportation engineering, as well as construction management. In recognition of the generous gift, the lab will be named in honor of Avinash Rachmale/Lakeshore Engineering and Andrew Haliw.

“The generosity of Mr. Rachmale and Mr. Haliw to the university is inspired by their understanding of how integral a quality education is in the increasingly complex business world,“ said Wayne State University President Jay Noren. “I am grateful that the university’s alumni and the area’s prominent business leaders are stepping up during this time of transition – both at Wayne State and in the region. Their continuing support will ensure that we continue to grow, prosper and contribute to the economic vitality of the city. Their gifts certainly will help to prepare a highly-skilled civil engineering workforce to compete in today’s global marketplace.”

LES has offices in Detroit and Highland Park, Mich.; Alabama; Illinois; Kansas; Kentucky; New Jersey; New Mexico; Texas; Vermont; Maharashtra, India; Baghdad, Iraq; and Kabul, Afghanistan. The company has a vested interest in the revitalization and diversity of the metropolitan Detroit area and provides support to many of the city’s municipal services. Illustrating its commitment to the city, LES purchased and renovated the former Secretary of State building in the New Center Area in 2005 to house its headquarters. Rachmale anticipates that the investment will attract investors and people to the district.

Born in a poor farming village in India, Rachmale took his father’s advice to get an education so that he could pursue a better life. After attending college in his native country, Rachmale immigrated to the United States and chose Wayne State University as the launching pad for his dreams. He received his master’s degree in civil engineering and a certificate in hazardous waste management from the Wayne State College of Engineering in the early 1990s. Rachmale was honored with the College of Engineering’s Most Distinguished Award for Alumni in 2006, when he was inducted into the College of Engineering Hall of Fame.

Haliw, whose parents were forced to work as laborers in Nazi Germany during World War II, immigrated to the U.S. as a displaced person, was raised in Detroit and attended Cass Technical High School before earning a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Wayne State in 1968. Upon graduation and by working the midnight shift at Jones and Laughlin Steel, Haliw put himself through Wayne State’s Law School graduating in 1982. He currently serves as Corporate General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Internal Operations at LES. Haliw will be inducted into the WSU College of Engineering Hall of Fame at the DIA on September 27.

“The gifts from Mr. Rachmale and Mr. Haliw in support of the state-of-the-art civil engineering lab in the new facility are helping advance the College of Engineering’s commitment to structuring programs that foster research excellence. Through its varied programs at all levels, the college is creating a pipeline of engineering and technology ‘experts,’ beginning in the middle schools of this city and extending beyond graduate studies to foster continuing workforce competence,” said Ralph H. Kummler, dean of the College of Engineering. “We are tremendously appreciative of this generous commitment and look forward to continuing our friendship with Mr. Rachmale, Mr. Haliw and Lakeshore Engineering.”

In June 2006, Lakeshore established the non-profit Lakeshore Economic Coalition to support workforce development and 21st century jobs for under-employed and unemployed individuals in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck. Through the Coalition, Rachmale sponsors Project Best, a pre-engineering project for ninth- and tenth-grade students at Highland Park High School. Students from this program attend the FIRST Robotics event and summer camps hosted at Wayne State. Wayne State Colleges of Engineering and Education will also work with other community-based companies to show adolescents and families that once they have the proper training, becoming a leader in the field of engineering and technology is a reality.