Supporting leadership and communication

Longtime supporter Tom Page provides opportunities for Civil Engineering students to see the world.

Tom Page (BSCE '55, MSIA '63, HDR '94) has long encouraged engineers to obtain a well-rounded education.

"Historically, I think the ability to speak effectively and write clearly are areas that have been lacking in engineering curricula. These are crucial skills for professional engineers. To be successful, you must be able to articulate your ideas in a compelling way," Page says.

His son earned degrees in engineering and English literature which, in Page's mind, represents the kind of training needed for today's engineers.

At the 2014 ASCE conference, the Purdue delegation had opportunities to network with civil engineering luminaries, including Dr. Delon Hampton (MSCE '58, PhD '61), pictured here with his wife, Sonia. Hampton was the first African-American president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, 1999-2000.

Page learned the importance of communicating effectively during his career as a professional engineer and as a CPA. He also has held positions as CEO, president, and chairman of the board of Enova Corp. and of the San Diego Gas and Electric Co.

Page and his late wife, Evelyn, believed so passionately in the value of communication that they created the Page Leadership Fund for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Purdue Student Chapter. Their gift complements the analytical nature of an engineering curriculum by providing for communications courses, writing and presentation competitions, and opportunities for students to travel and network with professional engineers.

"These travel opportunities provide students with exposure to what is happening in the world," Page says. "They are exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking that are different from their own."

Connections in Panama

Last fall, the Page Leadership Fund underwrote a trip to Panama City for students in Purdue's ASCE Student Chapter to attend the ASCE 2014 Global Engineering Conference. The weeklong meeting was filled with activities that helped students learn about advancements in infrastructure, ASCE improvements and worldwide collaborations. Students got the chance to attend seminars, networking sessions and engineering presentations.

"The trip was a phenomenal experience, made possible through the generosity of Dr. Page," says Mike Kelly, vice president of the Purdue student chapter of ASCE. "The experience provided me with a significant amount of exposure to the industry that I will be working in upon graduation."

"For me, the greatest part of the trip was the ability to network with nearly every esteemed and distinguished professional in the field of civil engineering," says Patrick Toth, president of the Purdue student chapter of ASCE. "Presentations were engaging and focused on national issues and projects that students could relate to. I would not be where I am today without ASCE."

The students explored the city and the Panama Canal, where they viewed locks and sections of the canal.

"Additionally, the students talked to Purdue alumni who have been involved in the construction of new locks and cuts," says Darcy Bullock, professor of civil engineering, who accompanied the students on the trip. "Having the opportunity to see firsthand this massive engineering project, which is one of the most significant engineering accomplishments of the last century, provides learning opportunities we can never provide in the classroom or with textbooks."

Although Page did not attend the Panama meeting, he was pleased Purdue students were able to. "The trip was so interesting for the students because it was multidimensional. They attended a global professional conference full of new ideas, and they had incredible exposure to one of the grand engineering projects of the last century," Page says.

"I continue to support Purdue because it means so much to me personally, and it is such a great economic value," he says. "I am fortunate to have the ability to help other people benefit as I did."

To support student programs or other initiatives in Civil Engineering, contact Don Fry, senior managing director of development, at 765-494-2236 or DRFry@prf.org.