Upon hearing about an endowment for an academic institution,
one frequently thinks of a bequest. As in some exceedingly wealthy
But an endowment can be started with modest amounts of money. It does
not have to be initially funded with millions of dollars.
Me, I would like to have enough money to be considered
eccentric. But that is a bit of a digression.
But here are some thoughts about why I personally founded a pair of
science related endowments:
I am first and foremost, an engineer. I get a great deal of
satisfaction out of converting hare-brained schemes into new
and useful products. I enjoy the first 90% of the efforts
to create such items.
Over the course of my career, I have talked with job candidates
with a broad spectrum of experience levels. Starting around 2000,
it became obvious that the average quality of the candidates for
entry-level software development positions was actually decaying.
Additionally, (alarming as well) a surprising number of the
entry-level job candidates we were seeing seemed to have
the mindset that they were entitled to a job, and that
they would not be expected to work particularly hard.
It was as if the motivation to get a job was not driven by an
interest in building new and interesting widgets.
The world of "high tech" engineering faces some major challenges:
But the weakening state of math and science education in this country
is pervasive, and starts in grade school. And unless this trend is
reversed, world technical leadership will shift to China and India
within two or three generations.
The demand for engineers remains strong, and continues to grow.
The number of engineering graduates remaining in the US has
stayed the same or declined. A growing number (in terms of
percentages) are returning to their nation of origin (frequently
India and China) after graduation, instead of remaining in
Math and Science education in this country is lagging. China
and India are producing an enormous number of talented
and hardworking graduates in Math, Engineering, and the
Put up, or shut up
After a number of months grumbling to myself, I came to some conclusions:
So I took the plunge - I contacted two educational institutions in the
region I grew up in; both of which are fairly small, consequently with
fairly small class sizes. So even my moderate level of funding could
potentially have a significant impact on the quality of education. In
the case of the computer science program at
UW-Parkside, a significant
number of the students are working their way through school, either part
time or full time. In turn, this means that the students are dedicated
and focused on being successful.
I really ought to "put up, or shut up", and
take a stab at solving 'the problem'.
I noted that my personal finances were such that I could
afford to provide a moderate level of funding. I was reaping
the benefits of having stock options in a successful start-up,
and personally do not lead an opulent lifestyle.
Copyright, 2004 - 2015 Richard Gorton - firstname.lastname@example.org