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Nissan funds $28,000 in COVID-19 emergency relief scholarships

Future engineers benefit from Nissan shifting gears and donating money to those negatively impacted by COVID-19 and the economic downturn.

Janel Shoun-Smith | 615.966.7078  | 

Nissan engineer at the BEST robotics competition

For the past decade, Nissan has supported Lipscomb's robotics programs for middle- and high-schoolers through financial donation and volunteer work, such as at the Music City BEST competition, pictured here.

After the COVID-19 pandemic and required social distancing forced the cancellation of the popular Nissan/Lipscomb BisonBots Robotics Camps this summer, Nissan North America was able to quickly shift gears and work with Lipscomb University to use a portion of its 2020 donation of $60,000 in a way that still nurtures future engineers.

In short order, the money was re-allocated to support scholarships for more than 10 Lipscomb engineering students who have realized financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and are in need of additional support to complete their degrees.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created economic uncertainty for many students. With the cancellation of the summer robotics camps, reassigning those funds toward scholarships for engineering students directly impacted by the pandemic was a natural pivot,” said Parul Bajaj, Nissan’s senior manager of Philanthropy. “Our commitment to education is strong regardless of the form it takes for students this summer.”

Since 2010, Nissan has annually funded Lipscomb’s BisonBots Robotics Camps and Music City BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) robotics competition, providing engineering and STEM education for students throughout Middle Tennessee at a variety of skill levels from age 6 to high school seniors.

Nissan’s total investment in nurturing Middle Tennessee’s future generations of engineers through Lipscomb totals $718,793.

Students at BEST robotics competition

Nissan will remain the sponsor of the Music City BEST robotics competition for 2020.

In 2020, a portion of the donation will still be used to sponsor the upcoming Music City BEST Robotics Competition in the fall, and the rest that would have supported six weeks of robotics camps on campus will instead allow students like Bibiana Perdomo, a senior from Murfreesboro, to continue pursuing her engineering degree in uncertain times.

As internships were hard to find this summer for all college students, Perdomo is using her scholarship to take a summer course to keep on track to graduate with the Class of 2021.

“I am using this scholarship to help me focus on my studies and to give me the time to explore different disciplines within my engineering major without having to worry about this semester's finances,” she said. “It means so much because it is allowing me the chance to still finish my degree with the class I came in with when I started my engineering studies.”

“We appreciate Nissan’s willingness to support students who are struggling. Their generosity is good for all of us involved and helps our students tremendously,” said David Elrod, dean of Lipscomb’s Raymond B. Jones College of Engineering. “This partnership helps Nissan as we develop a trained workforce, and it helps the students by lessening their financial burden. The novel coronavirus is driving novel solutions to helping others.”

This latest donation continues a 10-year partnership between Lipscomb and Nissan. Nissan not only provides financial support but also has recruited its engineers to work with thousands of children over the years who have attended the summer robotics camps and the BEST competition each October. Lipscomb’s engineering professors have also worked with local nonprofits to bring the robotics camps to at-risk students in low-income living situations.