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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2007 / 04 

Engineering students provide $105,000 endowment for design teams

April 26, 2007

Virginia Tech engineering students announced today an endowment for their peers and future generations of Hokie engineers.

Virginia Tech’s Student Engineers’ Council (SEC) has created a permanent funding source for the dozens of engineering design teams in the college. With an initial gift of $105,000 to be formally presented at the SEC’s Leadership Awards Luncheon on April 30, the SEC is “using the revenue it generates from the Engineering Expo and creating a long lasting source of money that will benefit the College of Engineering for years to come,” said Jonathon Kegan, director of philanthropy for the SEC .

“Our goal is have this endowment reach $500,000, depending upon how well Expo is run throughout the next few years. However in the interim, the new endowment would be able to provide some assistance by using the interest generated off the principal amount,” Kegan, a junior in electrical and computer engineering, explained.

“Once the overall goal is reached, design teams would be eligible to apply for a set amount of money that will help fund their team in design, travel, or any other costs they might have. As these design teams succeed in competitions, they truly show how great the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech really is,” Kegan, of Dryden, Va., added.

“This endowment is loaded with potential; as it begins to bear fruit, we will see it feed student involvement, innovation, and ownership in their education. The SEC is truly realizing its vision to serve the College of Engineering, engineering student societies, and engineering students by planting and nourishing this financial seed. The SEC is sincerely grateful for every sponsor; without them, none of this would be possible,” added Michael Chappell, now an alumnus of the university who works as an analyst with Accenture. Chappell, currently residing in Alexandria, Va., was the 2005-06 SEC chair who originally conceived of the design team endowment.

Prior to this most recent gift, the SEC had already twice been cited as the most philanthropic student organization in the country by the National Association of Engineering Student Councils. Those earlier recognitions were in 2003 and in 2006 for past gifts of cash to support programs in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering.

In addition to its grants, the SEC also confers three endowed scholarships annually, each having a principal value of $25,000. The SEC created its first scholarship in 1985 with the financial assistance of the members of the Committee of 100, a select group of Virginia Tech engineering alumni. The students announced this scholarship as a surprise to honor Paul E. Torgersen, who was dean of the College of Engineering at the time. Since then, the endowment has grown substantially, and now allows for two Torgersen Leadership Scholarships to be awarded each year. The scholarships, each worth $1250, are awarded to two rising seniors who have shown outstanding leadership and academic achievements.

In 1988, the SEC decided to endow a third scholarship from its own generated income. Called the Nathnael Gebreyes Service Scholarship, the $1250 scholarship is awarded annually to a rising junior or senior who has portrayed outstanding service principles to the university and the community. Gebreyes was a past chair of the SEC who was tragically killed in an automobile accident by a drunken driver.

The SEC earns the revenue it donates to the college by hosting the Engineering Expo career fair each year. In 1980, approximately 40 companies attended the Career Fair. Today, some 250 companies participate and due to a lack of space, another 50 have been place on the waiting list for the past two years.

“Virginia Tech’s Engineering Expo is one of the most successful career fairs in the country,” said Erik Anderson of Harrisonburg, Va., the 2006-07 chair of the SEC.