Section Elevating Student Experience
As a Purdue student in the 1960s, Bob Hull found his time as a musician as rewarding as his metallurgical engineering studies. It is no surprise that in his philanthropy he gives back to the two programs that helped shape him — and that he hopes will shape future students.
Bob (BSMSE ’65) and his wife, Trudy, recently gave $25,000 to the School of Materials Engineering (MSE) and $25,000 to Purdue Bands & Orchestras. Because they gave to MSE during the 2018 Purdue Day of Giving, the school was able to create a special matching fund with their gift, which encouraged others to support laboratory upgrades in MSE.
“I’ve been fortunate to put together a nice retirement account,” Hull says. “Instead of taking the annual minimum distribution from our IRA, we gift it to Purdue. This is something we’ve encouraged a lot of folks to do.” This is not the Hulls’ first gift for MSE lab upgrades. The Hulls support these improvements because they are a high priority for the school.
“Bob and Trudy’s generosity to MSE has been instrumental in keeping our students at the cutting edge in the labs,” says David Bahr, head and professor of Materials Engineering. “Ensuring all our MSE students get hands-on and authentic experiences in their lab courses requires constant attention to the tools that industry expects our students to be comfortable with, and with their gifts, the Hulls have helped us target a key upgrade each year, for several years now.”
Engineering-oriented, musically inclined Hull worked at John Deere & Co. as an engineering supervisor for seven and a half years. In 1975, he joined Kingsbury Castings — a foundry his father co-founded with Robert Hiler Sr. in 1969 — where he worked for 32 years before retiring. At the company, which falls under the umbrella of Hiler Industries, Hull became a leader in adopting new casting technologies and implementing them successfully in industry. In 2014, the school honored Hull with the Outstanding Materials Science and Engineering Award.
“I’ve used the metallurgy degree and music all my life,” says Hull, who mainly plays clarinet and alto saxophone, as well as flute and tenor and soprano saxophone. “The experiences I got at Purdue in all of my engineering, chemistry, and math classes — and in the University band program — taught me to have a sense of urgency and gave me ability to pay attention to details. It was a whole discipline that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else but at Purdue.”
Elevating the student experience
He fondly recalls the release that music provided while he was an engineering student. “When you are working on your studies, it is a nice break for one or two hours in the afternoon,” he says. Hull spent two years in the marching band and all four years in symphonic band. Over the years, he has balanced his love of music with his career by playing in the LaPorte Symphony Orchestra and the Michigan City Municipal and LaPorte City bands. He encourages musically inclined students in all disciplines to keep playing — even if their chosen careers take them on a different path. “Playing music increases confidence and maturity,” he says. “It is another way of learning.”
The better the resources Purdue students have, the more successful they will be, Hull says. That is why he and Trudy continue to donate to areas that can elevate the student experience. “The more we can provide for these students, the better their futures will be.”
Banner Photo Caption
Bob and Trudy Hull
Investments in Infrastructure
Expansions and improvements to teaching and learning spaces, laboratories, offices
Elevating Student Experience
Scholarships, student opportunities, diversity programs, student clubs
Dedicated to the Cause
Fundraising, event hosting, activity planning, advisory boards, networking with alumni
Laboratory infrastructure and equipment, project startup funds, graduate student support
Administrative funds, student travel and networking, unexpected opportunities
Rewarding, retaining, recruiting faculty and promoting diversity in engineering