Scholarships reward and attract students to ECE

Author: Jan Mathew
Establishment of Purdue University’s Presidential and Trustees Scholarship program — a relatively new component of the university’s multi-million-dollar Access and Success fundraising campaign — addresses an ambitious but straightforward goal: to attract and retain the best and brightest students the world has to offer.

And, with a track record of $7 million awarded to 820 Trustee Scholarship students and $3.7 million to 638 Presidential Scholarship winners in 2008, this merit-based program is building momentum via an exemplary student body and a generous corps of contributors.

The Trustees Scholarship offers an annual award of $8,000 for Indiana residents and $10,000 for out-of-state students, while the Presidential Scholarship grants an annual award of $5,000 for Indiana residents and $7,000 for out-of-state students. Both scholarships are renewable for up to four years of fulltime enrollment for students maintaining a 3.0 grade point average.

To date, Purdue has raised more than $68 million for these and other new or expanded scholarships and programs.

Within this framework, several alumni of Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) have established endowed Presidential and Trustees Scholarships directed to ECE students — generous gifts that reflect the university’s contributions to their career successes, as well as their desire to “pay it forward.”

Bloor and Patricia Redding“When we attended Purdue, we felt the faculty, alumni, and administration gave us an excellent educational opportunity,” says Bloor Redding (BSEE ’79), retired patent attorney, vice president, and assistant general counsel, Hewlett Packard, and his wife, Patricia Redding (BSEE ’79), retired director, product engineering, Hewlett Packard. “Not only did we learn skills that we immediately put to work after graduation, but we learned the basic principles that enabled us to stay current with new technologies. We also experienced the fun of problem solving — that rush when you get something to work for the first time or you find a way to solve a tricky customer problem.

“We had professors that loved their subjects, loved their students, and taught critical thinking and problem solving skills as a natural part of the class,” he adds. “Now we believe it is our job to provide that opportunity for current and future Purdue students.”

“Purdue gave me an excellent engineering background for all of my varied design and management positions throughout my 38-year engineering career,” says Dr. William Cleveland (BSEE ’49, MSEE ’50), who retired from Ford Motor Company. “My hope is that today’s students will get a similarly broad-based engineering education that will allow them to perform no matter what direction technology takes over the next forty years.

“Purdue has wonderful facilities that we never had sixty years ago,” Cleveland adds, “and students need to take advantage of this — particularly at the graduate level.”

Bob and Dorothy ClevelandCleveland also appreciates that his gift to ECE includes a matching fund component, a bonus no longer available through his former employer. “I also feel this scholarship provides me a closer relationship with the recipient than just an outright gift,” Cleveland says.

Growing up on West Lafayette’s Russell Street and raised by parents who were Purdue professors gave Dr. Robert King (BSEE ’47, OECE ’92, HDR ’84) an early, and fortuitous, perspective on higher education. And King’s establishment of The Mary Rose King Presidential-Trustees Scholarship, named for his mother who earned her masters degree from Columbia University in 1905, reflects the viewpoint he has carried since.

“I was pre-conditioned to know the difference these types of merit scholarships can make,” says King, who retired as vice chairman of Square D Company in 1986. “And with the matching funds element of the Presidential and Trustees program, I was easily convinced to contribute.”

In establishing an ECE endowed scholarship, King’s hope is to reinforce a program already reputed for its strength. “Purdue graduates are outstanding engineers who can relate to a practical, ‘real’ world,” says King, whose father was head of animal husbandry at Purdue.

Born in Hangchow, China, Dr. William Mow (PhD ’67, OECE ’96, DEA ’95) moved to the United States with his family at age thirteen. In addition to a strong work ethic, Mow was infused with his parents’ passion for education — he, along with three of his brothers, all earned PhDs.

William MowAfter working for Litton Industries as a program manager, Mow formed Macrodata, a computer-controlled instrumentation firm that designed new ways to test large scale integrated computer chips. Credited with playing a role in the development of integrated computers and recognized as the inventor of their testing system, Mow in turn credits Purdue with steering him toward success.

“ECE fostered an atmosphere of creativity and motivation, and presented a very creative curriculum,” says Mow who, following the sale of Macrodata in the mid ‘70s, founded Bugle Boy Industries in 1977. “I did reasonably well in my industry because I was able to be creative.

“I also feel I played a small part in an (electronic) explosion that changed the world, and it’s my hope that today’s scholarship recipients will make similar contributions to technology. It doesn’t matter how small — what’s important is to contribute to the development of the world.”

Mow also applauds an ECE curriculum that spans fifty disciplines, a range connecting today’s students to “new dimensions” in career opportunities.

“I’m a firm believer in giving something back to the place that helped make you a success,” Mow says. “It’s my hope that scholarship recipients will have the same opportunity that I did, and that they’ll achieve as I did. Maybe they’ll be more successful and will give back even more.

“I’m very optimistic that what we’re contributing today towards these scholarships is only the beginning.”

“In the past, we’ve supported Purdue by coordinating recruiting, joining advisory committees to help keep curriculum relevant, and providing funding for lab equipment and suitable physical space,” adds Patricia Redding.

“Today, with the recession and hard economic times, we wanted to help students directly, and the endowed Presidential/Trustees scholarship was an enduring way to accomplish that.”