AAE student sees benefits from alumnus-funded scholarship even beyond graduation

A Purdue AAE graduate and former Track and Field athlete was compelled to establish a scholarship for aspiring Purdue engineers. One recipient is seeing its benefits even beyond graduation.

Jeff Grove loved to run. The son of an electrical engineer at Westinghouse, he didn’t quite want to follow in his dad’s footsteps — when he was making his college decision in the early ‘80s, aerospace engineering was the discipline for him. Track was his sport.

Those factors, combined with an athletic scholarship, made Purdue the obvious choice. Grove’s experience at Purdue led him and his wife, Christiane, to establish the Grove Family Scholarship in 2011. That endowed scholarship has helped Madison Shoemaker and many other Indiana residents succeed as engineers today.

Choosing Purdue

Angie Zhang portrait
Madison Shoemaker (BSAAE ’21, MSAAE ’22)

Cost was a factor when Shoemaker was weighing her higher-education options. Purdue’s top-tier engineering reputation combined with the long-frozen in-state tuition made it an easy pick.

After completing First Year Engineering, she was accepted into the AAE program in the fall of 2018 — but she was intimidated by the rigor of the program. Receiving the Grove Scholarship confirmed she was in the right place.

“Being accepted into the program was a dream come true, but I had no doubt that it was going to be a challenging major,” Shoemaker says. “When I was awarded the Grove Scholarship from the AAE department, it gave me a boost in confidence that I belonged in the program.”

The scholarship yielded benefits for Shoemaker (BSAAE ’21, MSAAE ’22) even beyond graduation: “The award has been a long-lasting gift; it allowed me to land on my feet faster once I got out in the ‘real world’.”

Lifelong rewards of a Purdue education

Grove, who graduated with his Purdue AAE bachelor’s degree in 1986, says he could not have picked a better program.

Angie Zhang portrait
Christiane and Jeff Grove (BSAAE ’86)

“The classes were interesting and challenging, the professors were great mentors, and my classmates were top notch,” he says. “I was fortunate to develop some relationships with fellow students that were special, and many remain friends to this day.”

Grove went to work as an aerodynamics engineer at Boeing, but changed careers just four years later.  “I loved working on commercial airplanes but also loved working with computers,” he says. “I was able to land a job at Microsoft as a programmer and I worked there for 24 years. I moved to a start-up in 2015 and have been there ever since.”

Despite his change in direction, his time in Purdue’s classrooms and athletic teams, gave Grove skills, friendships and experiences that endure long after graduation.

“Professor Gustafson was my advisor, as he was to many, and he treated me with such kindness and respect that he'll remain special to me for my entire life. One of the highlights of my time at Purdue was seeing him at a track meet when he came to watch me run!” Grove says.

Shoemaker, who is about to begin her new job as a systems engineer at Northrop Grumman, says the reputation of Purdue alumni like Grove helped propel her own success:

“The name of the institution carries a lot of weight in the defense industry. I had several offers to weigh when I was graduating from Purdue. I attribute that to the caliber of work that the Purdue alumni before me have shown at their jobs.”


Story by Alan Cesar. Photos provided.