J. Michael and Christine Pearson have given $30 million to the Pratt School of Engineering in order to advance science and engineering education.

The gift is the sixth largest of Duke Forward, the current capital campaign, and goes toward Pratt's goal of $161.5 million. Both Mr. and Mrs. Pearson are Duke alumni— Pratt '81 and Nursing '84, respectively.

Interest in Pratt is currently at a record high, with a 20 percent increase in undergraduate applications to the school, a Duke News release noted.

“Over the past five years, Pratt has been one of the fastest-rising engineering schools in the nation, and this landmark gift will provide critical fuel for our continued ascent," Tom Katsouleas, dean of Pratt, said in the release. “As an alumnus of Duke Engineering, Mike Pearson deeply understands the key role engineers will play in solving some of the great societal challenges of the 21st century -- from making solar energy economical to engineering new medicines to providing regular access to clean water for the billion people on this planet who need it."

The donation is intended for interdisciplinary programs, research and courses. Laurie Patton, dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, said in the release that the gift will be used to strengthen the ties between Trinity and Pratt.

The Pearsons are now the fourth largest contributors to Duke Forward, with other gifts including $15 million to the School of Nursing and $7.5 million to the Fuqua School of Business.