The 2022 Emerging Philanthropist Award was presented to Chad and Tara Surprenant for their generosity in supporting Iowa State University and its community. The Iowa State University Foundation recognizes individuals or couples under 50 years of age who have supported the Foundation and Iowa State University through philanthropic and creative leadership.
Chad, ISG’s chief strategy officer and board chair, graduated from Iowa State in 1993 with his civil engineering degree. With 60+ Iowa State graduates across the multi-disciplinary firm today, Chad, Tara, and the Surprenant family understand the importance of giving back and making a difference, to ensure opportunities for future generations of Iowa State students.
Over the last several of giving back to the University, the Surprenant family has generously funded the new design technology application space in the College of Design. This space, named the Surprenant Ingenuity Lab, is designed to evolve with student needs, studies, and innovative technologies, and currently hosts virtual and augmented reality application equipment. The lab features virtual reality technology that will allow students to build 3D models, renderings, and visualizations, preparing the next generation of architects, interior designers, and landscape architects for real-world applications.
In addition to the family’s support for the Foundation, Chad and Tara plan to contribute to the renovation of the Town Engineering building, which houses the Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering department. With the Surprenant’s past and current involvement with the University, the award is given for demonstrating support for the University through personal philanthropy and fundraising service.
“Giving back to the University that means so much to us is humbling, but to fill an obvious need within our profession made it the perfect opportunity for us. The Surprenant Ingenuity Lab provides a space and technology for the next generation of designers to incorporate virtual reality. We are thrilled to do our part to get Cyclone designers on the cutting edge,” Chad shared.
Chad’s personal passion for Iowa State and the Architecture and Engineering industry come together through the work at ISG and the firm’s culture. Specifically, ISG’s presence in higher education has impacted institutions across the Midwest. ISG has partnered with several higher education projects including shaping the next generation of industry professionals and developing learning spaces such as the Surprenant Ingenuity Lab.
“The lab provides the opportunity to explore virtual and augmented reality and 3D scanning technology, equipping students with the knowledge of and experience with this innovative technology as they enter their careers. Top design firms, such as ISG, use this technology to help colleagues and clients understand design decisions, from aesthetic to functional processes. Because of the generosity of the Surprenants, our students can learn about and use this technology in the College of Design,” Dr. Seda McKilligan, Associate Dean for Academic Programs at the College of Design, shared.
The Surprenants are proud to continue their family’s legacy at Iowa State, where Ken Surprenant—Chad’s father and co-founder of ISG—graduated with his degree in civil engineering in 1966, and where Chad and Tara graduated. Today, two of Tara and Chad’s three children, attend Iowa State University—Noah, a junior in supply chain management, and Ellie, a sophomore in pre-interior design.