Transformational Investment

Carl and Melinda Helwig invest in naming the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Kansas State University

“The Helwigs are committed to assuring undergraduate students have extracurricular experiential learning opportunities beyond the classroom. Their generous gift enables students to participate in a team environment working on product design, testing, manufacturing and marketing prior to entering the professional workforce.

— Joseph Harner, department head and professor, biological and agricultural engineering


Carl and Melinda Helwig of Columbus, Kansas, have invested in the naming of the Carl and Melinda Helwig Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering at Kansas State University. At its March 18 meeting, the Kansas Board of Regents approved the naming of the department in the Helwigs’ honor.

This investment will empower the department to recruit and retain top faculty, support deserving students and provide flexible funding for department leaders to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

"I am extremely honored that Carl and Melinda Helwig have chosen to invest in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering,” said Joseph Harner, department head and professor. “The Helwigs are committed to assuring undergraduate students have extracurricular experiential learning opportunities beyond the classroom. Their generous gift enables students to participate in a team environment working on product design, testing, manufacturing and marketing prior to entering the professional workforce."

Carl and Melinda Helwig, owners of Helwig Farms, raised wheat, corn, soybeans and grain sorghum on their southeast Kansas farm. The Helwigs also competed and placed in state and national tractor-pulling competitions in the early 1980s. Neither attended Kansas State University, but in the past few years, they have become important supporters and mentors of K-State students by investing in the university’s quarter-scale tractor team. They felt a kinship with the students of K-State’s quarter-scale tractor team and were motivated to support that team, which demonstrates the power of engineering and inspired innovation.

“We are honored to support K-State as it educates the next generation of engineering professionals,” said Carl Helwig. “We have had a good life, been fortunate in grain production, and we’ve enjoyed the thrill of competition. We want students to have every opportunity to be on top.”

A gift of this magnitude is truly transformational for the college and the university.

“Carl and Melinda Helwig personify the generosity of the K-State family,” said K-State President Richard Myers. “Their investment in the success of the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering faculty, students and programs not only elevates the college but brings prestige to the university and helps propel K-State toward being nationally recognized as a student-centered, public research university.”

As Kansas State University’s strategic partner for philanthropy, the KSU Foundation inspires and guides philanthropy toward university priorities to boldly advance the K-State family. The foundation is leading Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas State University to raise $1.4 billion for student success, faculty development, facility enhancement and programmatic success. Visit ksufoundation.org for more information.

Carl and Melinda Helwig with tractor team