Military veterans, Learning Factory to receive $1.5 million gift

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- American military veterans planning to study engineering at Penn State will get help from a groundbreaking future endowment as part of a $1.5 million estate commitment.

The gift by engineering alumnus Andrew Kartalis and his wife, Katherine, of Cleveland, will provide scholarships, as well as program and laboratory support.

As part of the future endowment, the Andrew Kartalis Scholarship in the College of Engineering will provide recognition and financial support for students, with first preference going to veterans in good academic standing who intend to continue their education at the Penn State College of Engineering. As part of the future endowment, more than $1 million will go to scholarships and veteran programs. The scholarships will support students studying in aerospace engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, engineering science, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering.

The future endowment will support the newly named Andrew Kartalis Hands-on Learning Laboratory in the Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory. After Andrew and Katherine took a tour of the Learning Factory this past May, they came away very impressed by the program.

"We were enthralled to see the impact the Learning Factory has had. Students are able to connect with industry by working on sponsored projects, which companies are hoping will result in real solutions. People are coming together on campus to do great things, and industry is coming in and sponsoring projects for the students to do," Andrew and Katherine Kartalis said. Andrew added, "What better way for a student to prepare himself or herself for a job upon graduation? It's like nothing we had back when I attended Penn State in the 1950s."

Learning Factory Director Mary Frecker, professor of mechanical engineering, whom Andrew and Katherine met on their tour, said, "Through the Learning Factory's partnerships with industry and other clients, our students have the opportunity to engage in real-world capstone design experiences. The Kartalis Hands-on Learning Laboratory is a key part of our unique facility that is totally dedicated to student use. We are very grateful for Andy and Katherine's generous commitment to our students."

As part of their future commitment, The Kartalis Veteran Engineers and Top Scholars (VETS) Program Endowment will provide support for honorably discharged U.S. military veterans enrolled or planning to enroll in the College of Engineering at Penn State.

Kartalis VETS is the first and only program of its kind in the college, providing scholarship assistance and programming.

The VETS program will help students with the military-college transition, encourage personal development opportunities, provide scholarship support, offer experiential learning opportunities and assist with expenses associated with the programmatic initiatives. This initiative in the college will offer a lasting legacy of impact on numerous U.S. military veterans enrolled at Penn State.

As a Navy veteran of 21 years, Andrew relates to the veteran students and feels it makes sense for them to benefit from the gift. "They need support when they come back from overseas. College can help them find their way," he said.

After graduating in 1954 with his degree in civil engineering from Penn State, Andrew served in the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps as a commissioned officer and retired in 1976.

Afterward he became a developer and co-founded a hotel development and management company. Katherine graduated from Youngstown State in 1959 with a degree in education and taught in many of the duty stations where they lived while in the Navy. The couple has two daughters: Elena Caspar and Angelique Berry.

"Penn State has always had a warm spot in my heart," Andrew said. "We are a Penn State family, and it means a lot that we can make a difference for future students in this way."

Elena and her husband, Mike, are both 1993 graduates of Penn State. "It blew me away when Elena told me she wanted to study industrial engineering. I am so pleased to see the growing number of female undergraduates in the College of Engineering, and I hope my scholarship will help women veterans study at Penn State."

The Andrew Kartalis Scholarship in the College of Engineering will help Penn State reach its goals in For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This initiative is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality. The campaign's top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

Last Updated September 27, 2013