Upon hearing about an endowment for an academic institution, one frequently thinks of a bequest. As in some exceedingly wealthy dead person. 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:

The context

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 problems

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.

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.

Copyright, 2004 - 2015 Richard Gorton - rcgorton@verizon.net