College of Engineering News Room

Lancor Donation Supports Medical Engineering Students

By Brad Stager

As the Department of Medical Engineering transitions from newly-established to establishing a reputation in the biomedical engineering field, it is generating interest from College of Engineering graduates of other disciplines who learn about the program.

Among the first alumni to financially support the department is Barbara Lancor, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1979. She and her husband Michael donated $25,000 to support the success of University of South Florida medical engineering students.

Barbara and Michael Lancor

Barbara and Michael Lancor

For Lancor, the gift is a way to become involved in a field that she was interested in studying as an undergraduate forty years ago, except at that time there was no medical engineering program at USF or just about any other university.

“When I started in the mid-70s I had a passion for the biomedical sciences and asked if there was anything I could do with engineering and medicine, but the opportunities were extremely limited as it was an emerging field,” Lancor said. “They offered to set me up with my own individualized program, but I realized I would be a class of one and that didn’t really work for me.”

Lancor pursued her mechanical engineering degree and took as many courses as she could that were related to her interest in biomedical engineering.

“Any chance I could, I would take bio-science classes and hoped one day that it would be easier for students to contribute in the medical engineering space,” she said.

The day that Lancor anticipated four decades ago has arrived as a result of the partnership between the USF College of Engineering and the Morsani College of Medicine that has created the Department of Medical Engineering.

Robert Frisina, chair of the department, says the Lancors’ donation contributes to achieving the ultimate goal of lowering costs while improving healthcare quality through the training of students and the research they perform.

“Their gift will have a significant impact on student success in our department, where we are educating a new generation of multidisciplinary biomedical engineers at both undergraduate and graduate levels,” Frisina said.

He adds that the donation will fund scholarships for students and the purchase of equipment for the department’s state-of-the-art laboratory spaces.

Since graduating from USF, Lancor had a successful career in areas such as process control engineering, manufacturing and human resources with consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble until her retirement in 2012. She is currently managing the startup of a math tutoring program she co-designed, which is aimed at middle schoolers with gaps in their basic math knowledge.

She enjoys working in her family's vineyards and has resumed her education, taking classes in subjects such as organic chemistry with an eye toward eventually earning a graduate degree in the nutritional sciences. Lancor says the discipline required of students to graduate with an engineering degree at USF has served her well in the workplace and in her return to the classroom.

“The expectations and standards were so good that the degree I got at USF changed my life and took me to places I never considered," she said. "If I can contribute in a little way to make that possible for students who want to do something with their life, I would like to do that.”

To make a gift in support of Medical Engineering, click here.