Cargill Inc. has benefited over the years from all the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology graduates it has hired. On Friday the company showed its appreciation with a $580,000 gift to the school.
The gift will help the school's rapidly growing Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering.
Acting President of Mines Duane Hrncir called the growth "tremendous" for the department that has gone from 100 to 225 students in the past four years.
"Ultimately our goal is to increase the number of students hired by Cargill," Hrncir said.
The gift makes a total of $1.7 million given to Mines from Cargill since 1987.
Friday's donation will be administered over the next five years to fund laboratories and curriculum development, scholarships, field trips and other professional development opportunities for students in several departments, including electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and mining.
But the majority of the funding will support the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. It will support programs that provide opportunities for students to get hands-on experience with the practical applications of biological engineering.
"We want to provide employees that are ready to hit the ground running," said department head Robb Winter.
Mines is one of the top providers of engineering talent to Cargill, an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services.
The privately held company employs 142,000 people in 65 countries.
Laurie Chamberlin, Cargill's global strategic sourcing manager for chemicals, graduated from Mines in 1975. He said the education he received there allowed him to live his dream of moving around the globe and working with people from many cultures. He said he is impressed with the caliber of graduates Mines produces.
"The school has been flexible to changing needs, and every year the graduates get better," Chamberlin said.
The first Mines graduate was hired by the company in 1971. Today more than 60 Mines graduates work for Cargill, with many in leadership positions.