A Chance to Say “Thank You”

When School of Engineering senior Anthony Brown first learned he was the recipient of a $15,000 School of Engineering Alumni-Industry Scholar Award earlier this semester, he is not embarrassed to admit he shed a few tears of happiness.

“I was having a bad day when I got the email,” he recollected recently sharing his initial reactions with alumnus and Scholar Award donor Bob Beardsley ENG’68 at a meeting on the Busch campus that included Brown and the other two inaugural Alumni-Industry Scholar Award recipients. “Then I started to jump up and down, shouting at my iPhone, and I know I cried a little.”

Brown, along with his fellow award recipients James Rizkallah and Kenneth Tian, each had a chance to personally thank Beardsley for helping launch the Alumni-Industry Scholar Award program through a generous donation that will fund the first ten scholarships. Beardsley, a cofounder of Cypress E&P, a petroleum exploration and production company based in Austin, Texas, was extremely impressed with the Scholar Award students and enjoyed getting to know them during the course of his visit.

“These three students epitomize the qualities that are vital to building an impactful life, both personally and professionally,” said Beardsley. “I couldn’t be happier with the selection of Ken, James, and Anthony as the initial scholar recipients and I look forward to the legacy that they—along with School of Engineering alumni and industry partners—will help us build going forward.”

The students, who spent time with Beardsley as a group as well as one-on-one, shared with him their goals and interests, while Beardsley took on a mentoring role discussing some of his personal and professional life lessons and stressing the importance of character, accountability, and integrity.

Rizkallah, a senior majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering who completed an internship last summer with Bell Helicopter, was “truly inspired,” coming away from the meetings wanting “to be as actively involved as possible in the advancement and development of the Scholar Award program.”

For Brown, it was hearing about Beardsley’s 37-year relationship with his mentor and friend Robert M. Sneider RC’50 that resonated with him personally. Over the course of his internship at TRC Solutions in Millburn, NJ, which began during the summer after his junior year, Brown, now a senior set to graduate this spring with a bioenvironmental engineering degree, found a mentor and friend in Brendan Lazar ENG’83, his supervisor and also a graduate of the Bioenvironmental Engineering program at Rutgers.

“When Bob Beardsley talked about how important his mentor was in helping him achieve his goals not just early in his career, but throughout his professional life it reminded me of my relationship with Brendan,” said Brown. “He takes time out of his busy day to answer my questions thoughtfully with the intent of helping me develop into a well-rounded engineer. Through these kinds of talks we've developed a friendship that makes work a lot more enjoyable.”

The Alumni-Industry Scholars Award Program rewards students who have compiled impressive records during their freshman and sophomore years with full scholarships for their remaining two years, as well as summer internships and mentorship opportunities throughout the year with members of the Rutgers Engineering Industry Advisory Board and other engineering alumni. So far, about 20 companies have agreed to provide internships, including Bell Helicopter, the Texas-based company that invented—among other things—the tilt rotor, a device that allows aircraft to lift vertically (like helicopters) and fly forward.

"The program was designed to attract the best and the brightest students to engineering," said Beardsley who first broached the idea with the school’s dean, Tom Farris, a couple of years ago and has worked alongside Farris and others since then to develop the program and expand industry contacts. In addition to Beardsley’s personal commitment to fund the initial scholarships, two additional School of Engineering alumni have since stepped forward with gifts.  Together the three alumni have made gifts totaling $700,000 to launch the program.

For both Farris and Beardsley, this additional commitment of support from alumni is a positive endorsement for engineering scholarship at Rutgers and the values that are an important component of the Scholar program.

“I believe this is a special opportunity for the School of Engineering and all former and future Rutgers engineers,” said Farris. “The Alumni-Industry Scholar program will extend our community of scholars beyond the classroom and into the workplace connecting students, alumni, and industry in ways that prepare the engineers of the future to operate in an increasingly global, diverse, and complex world.”

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