Trine alumnus Pellegrino donates $3 million toward new design center

November 28, 2022

Pictured at Ridg-U-Rak, Inc. in Pennsylvania are, standing, from left, Dr. Rick L. James, chair of Trine University's Board of Trustees, Ray Stuckey, executive director of campaigns and major gifts at Trine, John Pellegrino Jr., Mark Pellegrino, John Pellegrino and Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine University president. Mary Pellegrino is seated in front. John Pellegrino, a 1960 Trine University alumnus, and Mary Pellegrino will donate $3 million toward efforts to build a new student design center on Trine’s Angola campus.
A 1960 Trine University alumnus and his wife will donate $3 million toward efforts to build a new student design center on Trine’s Angola campus.

John Pellegrino, who graduated with a degree in civil engineering, and his wife Mary have made a $1 million gift and plan to complete the pledge by the end of the year.

In appreciation for the gift, a newly proposed facility will be named the John and Mary Pellegrino Engineering Design Center.

“The student design center has long been an essential element of the practical, hands-on education offered to engineering students at Trine University,” said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine University president. “We are grateful to John and Mary for this significant upgrade to our facilities and equipment, which will benefit Trine students for many years to come.”

Outstanding alumnus

John Pellegrino said he thought about giving to Trine after reflecting on photos from his childhood during the Great Depression and on what his degree has allowed him to accomplish.

“If it wasn’t for that degree, I don’t know what I would be doing today,” he said.

After reading a proposal for supporting the design center, he felt the opportunities it will provide for hands-on education and fabrication were a perfect fit for his interests.

“I thought, ‘Holy heck, they’re plagiarizing everything I had in mind,” he said.

After working as a registered professional engineer at Strayer Manufacturing as Manager of Engineering for 14 years, John Pellegrino was hired by Ridg-U-Rak, Inc., as their Vice President of Engineering.

Eventually he purchased the small company and today the Pellegrinos’ family-owned, Pennsylvania-based company is one of the largest pallet rack manufacturers in North America and is widely recognized for its innovative, quality rack products. The company boasts three state-of-the-art locations, including two production facilities covering 160,000 square feet and a 5 1/2-acre warehouse and distribution center, which was added in 2018.

John Pellegrino received Trine University’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2002. The award is given each year to an alumnus or alumna who has attained a high level of achievement in his or her profession, is well thought of in his or her community, and who upholds the ideals of Trine University.

More space, better technology

Trine University’s Senior Design Center serves seniors in the Allen School of Engineering and Computing. Each senior must be part of a team that completes a design project for an industrial partner prior to graduation. Projects and the related Senior Design course leverage all the technical knowledge students have gained throughout their undergraduate career.

All of Trine’s senior design projects include a build portion to validate their design. The majority of these physical builds take place in the Student Design Center, currently housed in the former university boiler heating facility. As Trine has continued to enjoy record enrollment, the number of senior design teams has grown.

In addition to providing space for more and larger projects, the John and Mary Pellegrino Engineering Design Center will include state-of-the-art design and fabrication equipment to better meet the needs of student teams and industry partners. This will include a manual mill, manual lathe, CNC mill, CNC lathe, hydraulic press break, additional TIG(s) and MIG(s), welding table, tubing bender, heat treat oven, paint booth, band saw, metal fab English wheel, CNC router, 3D printers, a forklift and a car lift.

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