BUFFALO. N. Y. -- John R. "Jack" Davis, a well-known Western New
York industrialist who graduated from the University at Buffalo
with a degree in engineering, has given $1.5 million to the UB
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in support of a new
high-tech, flagship engineering building to be constructed on UB's
North (Amherst) Campus.
The gift is the largest single contribution by an individual in
the engineering school's 62-year history.
The Davis gift will support construction of the facility's
"clean room," a complex structure devoid of airborne particles or
contamination. Clean rooms allow intricate research in
nanotechnology, electronics, biomedical engineering and other
precise manufacturing fields. In honor of his generosity, the clean
room will bear the Davis name.
"I received an excellent education at the University at Buffalo
and this is my way of paying the university back for teaching me
how to think," said Davis. "My engineering background helped me as
an entrepreneur and business owner, teaching me the scientific and
technical aspects, of course, but also how to manage accounting and
human relations and all the other areas that allow a business to
"An investment in UB Engineering is an investment in our region
and the place where I believe it will do the most good," said
Davis. "Young men and women, educated right here in Western New
York, will use their practical knowledge to solve problems here and
around the world."
The new engineering building will modernize programs and
facilities for the departments of computer science and engineering,
and electrical engineering. Groundbreaking for the building,
designed by renowned architects Perkins + Will, is slated for the
summer of 2009. In addition to the clean room, the planned
130,000-square-foot structure will boast a "cybertorium" with
sophisticated communications devices and smart technology and
flexible research labs, classrooms and meeting areas for
interdisciplinary work. The facility will allow UB to use existing
buildings to expand its teaching in high-demand fields like
bioengineering, and boost student enrollment. These goals are
aligned with the UB 2020 strategic plan, which aims to grow UB by
40 percent and to invest in areas of strategic research strengths
such as information and computing technology, integrated
nanostructured systems and mitigation of extreme events and
"Jack understands that this region's future is dependent on the
growth of high-tech, well-paying jobs in fields like engineering
and technology," said Harvey G. Stenger, Jr., dean of the UB School
of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "Jack's commitment to our new
engineering facility will ensure that we successfully recruit top
students and faculty, attract vital research funding and prepare
graduates for successful careers in Western New York and
The new 5,000-square-foot clean room will be home to electrical
engineering faculty members and their students creating everything
from solar cells to biosensors to nanoparticles designed to treat
human diseases. Located on the building's first floor, it will open
onto the main hallway and large windows will allow passersby to
view cutting-edge science as it happens. Faculty and students who
work in the new UB engineering facility will be required to wear
special uniforms to protect lab experiments from skin flakes or
"The clean room will be the most expensive room in the new
building," said Stenger. "This gift will allow us to increase our
new building's impact on Western New York employment and research.
We're proud of Jack's accomplishments as an entrepreneur and
business man and we are excited that he has decided to help us in
this important project."
The new engineering building reflects a true "private-public"
partnership between generous private donors and New York State. The
state has provided $49.6 million to finance the basic building
structure. UB Engineering is engaged in a fundraising effort to
generate additional funds to enhance the function and quality of
"Jack's investment is an important endorsement of UB Engineering
and provides momentum for our fundraising effort and our plans for
growth," said Stenger. "It's interesting to note that Jack's
company, I Squared R, which began manufacturing heating elements in
the 1960s, has successfully evolved to develop technology for solar
panels, fiber optics and cell phones. That's engineering at its
best -- transforming operations and working at the leading edge of
industry, science and technology. Jack's investment will position
UB Engineering as a school on the rise, in a region committed to
Davis was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Western New York. He
graduated from Amherst High School and UB, earning a bachelor's
degree in industrial engineering in 1955.
He served in the Marine Corps Reserves and as a deck officer in
the Coast Guard. He left the Coast Guard Reserves as a lieutenant
in 1964, and founded the I Squared R Element Company, Inc., that
I Squared R holds the distinction of being the only U.S.-owned
plant that manufactures silicon carbide heating elements, special
heating elements designed for high-temperature electric furnaces. I
Squared R is located in Akron and employs 75 workers. The company's
products are made entirely in the United States.
Davis is active in politics, currently running for a seat in the
U.S. Congress from the 26th District of New York State. He
previously campaigned for the seat in 2004 and 2006, funding these
campaigns with his own money. Davis has also sponsored numerous
candidates for public office in races across Western New York.
Davis is married and has six children, 13 grandchildren and two
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.