Gift from Candace and Bert Forbes ’66 Creates Endowment to Support Directorship of the Edgerton Center

Candace Forbes and Bert Forbes ’66 have made a gift to endow the directorship of MIT’s Edgerton Center, which offers a broad range of hands-on learning and research opportunities for undergraduate students at MIT.

With this gift, Edgerton Center Director J. Kim Vandiver will become the Forbes Director of the Edgerton Center. Vandiver says the gift will provide vital support for the Edgerton Center’s mission.

“It is truly gratifying to receive such an endorsement of our work over the 23 years since the founding of the Edgerton Center,” says Vandiver, who is also a professor of ocean and mechanical engineering, dean for undergraduate research, and director of the Office of Experiential Learning. “I like to think that Doc and Esther [Edgerton] would be pleased that we are carrying on the Edgerton style of generous and supportive hands-on education.”

As an undergraduate at MIT, Forbes spent many hours in “Doc” Edgerton’s lab, and looks back on his time with Edgerton with great fondness.

Forbes graduated from MIT in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and completed his master’s in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He joined the Hewlett-Packard Corporation where he was one of the original architects of the HP 3000 minicomputer. Together with his wife, Candace, who has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Stanford and an MBA from Santa Clara University, they co-founded the Ziatech Corporation, which they later sold to Intel in 2000.

The Forbes family has made significant contributions to MIT in years past. In 2002 Bert and Candace Forbes funded the Forbes Family Café in the Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT. At the same time, they provided the Edgerton Center with an endowed gift to support its programs.

Established in 1992, the MIT Edgerton Center continues the hands-on legacy of Harold “Doc” Edgerton by giving students opportunities to learn by doing. The Edgerton Center’s hands-on learning programs include subjects in engineering and imaging for students and professionals; student-run clubs and teams; student machine shops; the international-development program D-Lab; and a year-round K-12 science and engineering outreach program, including professional-development workshops for teachers.

“We’re very happy to help carry on the tradition set by Doc Edgerton and Kim Vandiver. MIT needs their kind of love and attention to foster student curiosity and innovation,” Bert Forbes stated.

“This additional gift will allow me to focus more of my time and energy on our students and our programs,” Vandiver says. “I want the students to see the Edgerton Center as a ‘can-do’ kind of place, where students can try and fail and try again, until they find a winner.”

In future years, the Forbes Directorship will enable the Edgerton Center to attract and retain the most qualified leadership, enabling the Edgerton Center to continue its model of hands-on learning for MIT students and the K-12 community.

This story was originally published in MIT News on November 16, 2015.


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