The Omron Foundation has been giving to the Department of Health Sciences for several years, and their generosity has “changed the game for the safety program,” said Chris Grieshaber, associate professor in the safety program.
The relationship between Omron, a leading electronics manufacturer of automation, automotive, robotics, healthcare, and safety products, and Illinois State University began in 2008. ISU’s contact at the Omron Foundation is Kevin Bulatek ’93, a graduate of the environmental health program. Bulatek began working in the safety industry a couple of years post-graduation, and has since split his time between environmental health and safety. “My environmental health degree from ISU prepared me very well for the workforce,” said Bulatek. Currently, Bulatek is the director of risk, environmental health and safety, and facilities at Omron. “Helping keep people safe from hazards in the workplace, and making a positive difference is the most important activity I can do in my job.”
Omron strongly believes in making a difference, too. Omron believes in making donations to worthwhile causes; in this case, educating future generations to improve safety of the workforce at large. In addition, the Omron Foundation has a matching system in place for employee donations to encourage a philanthropic mindset within their team of employees.
“One of Omron Foundation’s focus areas is education. And, as Omron is a global leader in electronics manufacturing whose safety products are used to protect people from hazards, it’s a natural fit to support education in the field of safety,” explained Bulatek. “ISU’s safety program produces great students who become safety professionals and begin making a difference in people’s lives immediately upon graduating and joining the workforce. We are excited to further support the program and help students gain the knowledge they will need in order to make the biggest difference that they can.”
Much of Omron’s giving to the safety program was dedicated to remodeling a classroom and augmenting teaching modules with hands-on safety equipment for student use. “The classroom, which is a combination of lecture and lab space, affords us the ability to teach in ways that we couldn’t before,” said Grieshaber. “We are continually adding to the learning opportunities in the room.”
“As a student, I benefitted greatly from the safety lab,” said Nick Karalis ’16. Karalis, a graduate of the safety program, lists Ergonomics and Fire Prevention and Protection as just two of the classes that he took in the safety lab. Karalis is currently employed at Omron as an environmental health and safety engineer. “Now, I am doing what I did in class on a real production line, so it was extremely beneficial to have that learning experience before getting out into the working world.”
In addition to the safety lab, Omron Foundation has also partnered with the environmental health program, also in the Department of Health Sciences, on its Bio Energy Laboratory, as well as provided equipment for the School of Kinesiology and Recreation. Most recently, Omron recently endowed a scholarship. “The new scholarship will be just another way in which we can support our students and recruit new students to the program and the profession,” said Grieshaber. Eligibility requirements for the scholarship are still in the works, but will include life-long learning and motivated career aspirations. “Omron has been a tremendous company to partner with.”
“Omron is a company that lives by its mission: ‘To improve lives and contribute to a better society,’” said Karalis. “The longer I work here, the more I realize that this company cares about its people, the environment, and giving back.”
If you would like to support the Department of Health Sciences or another area of interest in the College of Applied Science and Technology, contact Katelyn Jacobs at (309) 438.3134 or kmjacob@IllinoisState.edu.