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Headshot of Tanner Frisby
A donation for the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering proves that no gift is ever insignificant. | Image: Courtesy Tanner Frisby

If you’ve ever received a scholarship, financial aid or tuition assistance, you know that no gift is ever too small. Whether it’s $5 or $50,000, any amount can transform a student’s learning experience and help ease the financial burden of higher education. Nobody understands this better than former student Tanner Frisby, who recently gave back to the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering at Texas A&M University, it’s first gift ever. 

“You know, a hundred dollars is nothing compared to what I’ve abundantly gained in experience and resources as an undergraduate and graduate student,” said Frisby. “When The Association of Former Students reached out, I decided to pledge $100.”

As a student, Frisby was a member of the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers team, where student teams design, build and race a single-person, open-wheeled racecar against other teams from across the world.

 “I know what it’s like to have to drum up the thousands of dollars every year,” said Frisby. “The university provides so many resources, but they don’t provide any capital. That’s up to the students.”

 Frisby was working at a small oil and gas company and had already relocated out of Aggieland by the time he began his graduate degree. With his employer’s encouragement, Frisby was able to complete his graduate degree while working full time — something that was made possible with distance learning.

Frisby received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and began his graduate career as a mechanical engineering major until he realized he might not be eligible for enough online courses to complete his degree plan.

By declaring his master’s in interdisciplinary engineering, Frisby was able to construct his own degree plan by picking and choosing courses from any and every department across the College of Engineering. His degree was tailored to his needs and included courses in mechanical engineering, petroleum engineering, and industrial and systems engineering.

“The interdisciplinary curriculum that I got gave me a lot of breadth and depth that I’m still using in my day-to-day job where I work on vehicular forensic analysis,” said Frisby.

 After graduation, Frisby reached out to multidisciplinary engineering department head Dr. Timothy Jacobs to figure out how he could support the department. There wasn’t a piece of laboratory equipment or a set of textbooks he could buy, but the emerging department was still growing and eager for any assistance offered.

And with The Association’s guidance and the Texas A&M Foundation's help, Frisby was able to specify which department he wanted to directly support, then with a flourish of a signature, he had donated the department’s very first gift.