Lengels' gift will create fund for excellence in aerospace engineering

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Aerospace engineering alumnus Robert H. Lengel and his wife, Sandy, have made an estate gift commitment that will enhance various initiatives in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering.

George Lesieutre, head of the department, said, "With the Lengel Fund for Excellence in Aerospace Engineering, we envision supporting student project activity, including travel, as well as scholarships for student leaders."

He added that the Lengels' gift will help the department focus on transmitting human-centered leadership values. "Traditional management can divide and dehumanize organizations, while human-centered leadership engages not only people's minds, but their hearts. The multi-semester vehicle design projects and competitions that are unique to aerospace engineering provide an ideal way for students to practice human-centered leadership of engineering and outreach projects over an extended period. We strive to graduate 'engaged engineers,' and can promote character development by providing opportunities for students to practice engineering, service and ethical behavior in team projects."

The gift will also be allocated toward new educational initiatives, awards for academic excellence, student research in faculty laboratories, international exchanges, laboratory equipment and faculty development opportunities.

Lengel received his bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering in 1968. He recalled that his Penn State experience provided him with a knowledge and skill base that allowed him to pursue multiple career paths successfully. "I went through the department at a time when experts from all over the world came to campus, largely because of the Garfield Thomas Water Tunnel. The curriculum was unique; it emphasized fundamental principles in math and physics and the ability to derive specific applications from those principles."

Lengel also holds a master's degree in engineering science and a master of business administration degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a doctorate in business administration from Texas A&M.

His professional experience spans the aerospace industry, financial services, environmental impact research, and analysis and academia.

Lengel is founder and executive director of the newly-established Academy of Leadership and Transformation in the College of Business at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He is also the founding director of UTSA's Center for Professional Excellence, the Executive MBA (master of business administration) program, the Leadership Challenge program and the For the Kids Dance Marathon project, modeled after the Penn State Intrafraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON).

For the past five years, Lengel has brought students from the leadership challenge classes to Penn State for THON weekend. He noted, "I enjoy watching their reactions. They are always so impressed. We are hoping to establish a similar philanthropic initiative at UTSA."

Through his continued involvement in the aerospace engineering department, Lengel has forged a solid relationship with Lesieutre. He said, "George and I talked about the importance of establishing a fund for excellence. It's something department heads can use to support emerging programs and initiatives. Because it's a general fund, it can help undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty."

Lengel said he and Sandy agreed this gift is an effective way to leave footprints on a place that means so much. "It began by recognizing where I came from, and Penn State was such a significant experience for me."

The Lengels' gift will help the College of Engineering reach its goals in For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This effort 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.

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Last Updated May 05, 2014