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Spring 2008 Reporter cover

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Based in Paramus, New Jersey, Versa manufactures pneumatic directional control valves, selling through distributors to thousands of customers around the world. “Our business serves a myriad of markets worldwide, including oil and gas, process control, automation, and mobile pneumatics, to name a few.

For example, you will find us on an emergency shut-down panel for oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea, and the Sea of China, as well as on automated assembly equipment for packaging. The uses for our valves are endless.”

“One of the biggest challenges for a manufacturing business is recruiting talented engineers,” says Larsson. “That’s why it’s so important to support initiatives such as Trinity’s robotics contest to help inspire students to pursue engineering as a career path.”

Reflecting on her college experience, Larsson says, “Trinity taught us to be critical thinkers. I was well prepared for graduate school and for my entire professional life. An engineering background teaches us to think analytically. Whether pursuing a career as a physician, a teacher, a design engineer, or a manager—it’s important to excite students about the possibilities that an engineering degree offers.”

Hands-on science for students in Hartford schools

Before her father passed away last year, Jan Larsson and her dad talked about how much it meant to him that his children could attend college. “He valued the importance of education, and he was so grateful to Trinity for the opportunities I discovered.”

“My dad never went to college, yet he was an incredibly successful entrepreneur,” says Jan Larsson. Part of her father’s bequest established the Larsson Family Scholarship Fund at Trinity, whose first scholar will be named this fall. Income from the fund will be used for scholarship aid to be awarded with preference to a rising junior or senior engineering major who has demonstrated excellence in engineering, personal integrity, and dedication to community service activities during his or her college career.

“We hope to grow the fund over the years,” says Larsson, who explains that after her brother passed away in 1991, the family established a fund in his memory at his alma mater, Muhlenberg College. “Supporting higher education is a family tradition, and I’m proud that Versa can support it, too.”

At the same time, the new Versa Valves Engineering Internship Program will bring robotics and hands-on science to up to 120 Hartford middle and high school students as part of the science curriculum of the Dream Camp program. Held on Trinity’s campus each summer, Dream Camp is offered free of charge to more than 250 low-income students from Hartford. Two Trinity engineering students will introduce the younger students to the basic principles of robotics and prepare them to enter Trinity’s annual Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest in the spring of 2009.

Working with the two Trinity interns, the Hartford youngsters also will have the opportunity to discover an interest in science and engineering, and the program can serve as a pathway for becoming more engaged in school and achieving the goal of going to college. The program also will build on Trinity’s work as one of the local organizations that established the Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Science, part of the Learning Corridor, which is located next to Trinity’s campus.

According to Larsson,“One of the aspects of my own education that I appreciated was the idea that students should be committed not only on the academic side, but have an opportunity to give back to the community as well. This program will help involve kids from Hartford, who may not otherwise have the chance, to discover an interest in robotics and engineering.”