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Joseph Culp’s $100,000 gift to fund scholarships

Sophomore Mike Cavazza
Penn State New Kensington sophomore Michael Cavazza, a petroleum and natural gas engineering major, enters the Nitrogen box to prepare an air sensitive chemical. He spent his freshman year researching alternatives to petroleum-based polyesters.
7/29/2013 —



Penn State alumnus Joseph C. Culp recently donated $100,000 to Penn State New Kensington to fund scholarships for talented students in a variety of disciplines. Culp’s gift to the campus complements gifts made to the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences to support the growth of Penn State’s petroleum and natural gas engineering programs.

“Penn State continues to play a leading role in exploring petroleum and natural gas engineering,” said Kevin Snider, chancellor of the New Kensington campus. “Our campus is situated squarely in the heart of the Marcellus Shale formation. We are at the forefront in educating the students who will fuel the future of our nation.”

The initial recipients of Culp’s generosity are students in the Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology (EMET) and the Chemistry programs. EMET is one of the campus’ eight bachelor’s degree programs. Students in the four-year program acquire the knowledge needed in all fields of engineering technology related to highly-automated manufacturing, production, or assembly plant processes. Chemistry students can get an early start on internships and research opportunities during their first two years at the campus before moving on to University Park to complete their degree work. The scholarships are designed to prepare students for the challenge of the modern energy industry.

To support the energy component, the campus will be investing in a new curriculum that acknowledges the issues in energy production in western Pennsylvania. The next generation of engineers will be the innovators in electro-mechanical technologies in the energy industry. Changes are underway already to strengthen programming with collaboration between faculty and undergraduates on research projects.

Sophomore Mike Cavazza, a petroleum and natural gas engineering major, spent his freshman year in the chemistry lab researching alternatives to petroleum-based polyesters using soybean oil. He worked with Robert Mathers, associate professor of chemistry, analyzing the kinetics of a soybean-based polymer that could be an alternative to petroleum-based polyesters.

“In doing this research, my ability to troubleshoot and find different ways to solve problems will help me in the future when I run into these situations,” said Cavazza, a graduate of Marion Center High School.

A graduate of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering program, Culp spent his career in the energy sector. He is a retired regulatory compliance manager for Chevron Corp. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana resident has a long history of philanthropic activity at Penn State.

"Mr. Culp’s gift is a huge benefit to the students in our region struggling to complete their education -- and we are grateful for his generosity," said Donna Speer, director of development at the New Kensington campus. "The scholarships will help many students who otherwise might not have the chance to go to Penn State and achieve their dreams and life goals."

Scholarships are the number one priority of the campus’ $3 million For the Future campaign. As of Aug. 1, the campus has received 2,880 gifts and pledges totaling $2.62 million since the campaign began in July 2007. New Kensington has reached 87 percent of its goal with 87 percent of the campaign underway.

The campus awarded $376,000 in scholarships to incoming freshmen for the 2013 fall semester. More than 160 first-year students received an average of $2,300 per award, and sixty-six students earned multiple awards.

For more on For the Future campaign, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Giving/givetoday.htm


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