Virgil Elings has made a $1 million gift to the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy for the construction of a new facility at Dos Pueblos High School.

In recognition of the gift, the new building will be named the Elings Center for Engineering Education.

The Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy is a four-year integrated course of study in physics, computer science and engineering that enrolls 128 students. The academy is seeking to grow by building a 12,000-square-foot facility that will have laboratory and classroom space for 400 students. The capital campaign to match a $3 million California state grant to fund construction of the facility is led by the nonprofit Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Foundation.

Elings’ gift is the largest contribution to date for the capital campaign. With his gift, the community has contributed $1.76 million to the campaign.

“Dos Pueblos is sincerely grateful to Dr. Elings for his extraordinary generosity, and we are pleased to have the new building bear the Elings name,” Dos Pueblos Principal Mark Swanitz said.

“We are so thankful for Virgil Elings to step forward once again and show such generosity for our students and their futures,” Santa Barbara School District Superintendent Brian Sarvis said.

Amir Abo-Shaeer, director of the academy, said, “Dr. Elings has chosen to invest in the future of education for our youth. The expanded DPEA will serve over 400 students and will provide a model for science and engineering education throughout California and the nation.”

Elings is a former UCSB physics professor who started and supervised a master’s degree program at UCSB in which students engaged in project-based learning. Elings also founded and built a Santa Barbara company, Digital Instruments, along with former students in the master’s program, that through rapid innovation was the world leader in its field. Elings would like to encourage and support the focus on project-based learning and innovation in the Engineering Academy.

For more information on the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, e-mail Abo-Shaeer at For information about the DPEA Foundation, e-mail Sandra Seale at

Those wishing to express appreciation to Elings for the gift can send an e-mail to

— Barbara Keyani is coordinator of administrative services and communications for the Santa Barbara School District.