When students are deciding on which school to attend for a master’s degree or Ph.D., the type of funding they receive is often a key part of their decision. Graduate fellowships, which provide the flexibility to focus on research without being tied to other responsibilities, are among the best ways to attract top students
Dr. Douglas Reeves, the College’s associate dean of graduate and international programs and a professor of computer science, said that financial support for graduate students is critical as they focus on their research and classes.
The benefit of a fellowship is that students have more time to figure out what kind of research they want to be doing or which professors they are interested in working with, rather than being financially supported through a teaching assistant or research assistant position, which requires them to devote time to that position and to that area of study.
“It’s helpful for recruiting students — you can say to a student, ‘You’re not locked in to a specific research project before you get there, you have the luxury of sampling, surveying what research projects are of interest to you,’” Reeves said.
Several engineering alumni have given back to the College by endowing fellowships, helping NC State compete for top engineering students who conduct innovative research that benefits the University and state.
NC State alumnus Thomas Griffin, who graduated with a B.S. in civil engineering in 1966 and earned a master’s degree in 1971 and is now the vice president of Forensic Engineering, Inc., endowed the Thomas Griffin Graduate Award in 2015.
Griffin said he was initially inspired to fund a higher education scholarship for NC State students when he thought back to a student he grew up with, who was the smartest boy in his high school class but unable to attend college because of a lack of financial resources. When he learned of the need to support graduate programs, he decided to give there.
“It’s important to have those resources available to bring in super bright students to our graduate program at NC State,” he said.
Dr. Joseph P. Archie Jr. endowed the Patrick H. McDonald Jr. and Clement Kleinstreuer Fellowship, also for graduate students, in 2000. Archie earned a B.S. in 1960 and an M.S. in 1962, both in mechanical engineering, as well as a Ph.D. in engineering mechanics in 1968 and an M.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill that same year.
Archie named the scholarship after his two mentors. McDonald helped make it possible for him to attend medical school and work on a Ph.D. at NC State at the same time. Kleinstreuer was Archie’s partner in starting a graduate education program in biofluids at NC State, which graduated several Ph.D. and M.S. students.
“The benefits of educating outstanding engineering graduate school candidates are compounding,” he said. “Successful graduates reflect positively on their university programs, tend to support them in turn and enhance the overall engineering school quality and excellence.”