APAI scholarship awards top $50,000

A partnership with a statewide association for companies in the asphalt pavement industry has provided more than $50,000 in scholarships for Trine University civil engineering students, including $12,000 this fall alone.

Bob McCormick BSCE 1961, a past president of the Asphalt Pavement Association of Indiana (APAI), helped connect that organization with Trine several years ago by setting up a meeting between APAI Executive Director William Knopf and Trine officials, including President Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D.

“We had a very good feeling afterward,” said Knopf.

Besides his connection to Trine as an alumnus, McCormick, who also served as president of Rieth-Riley Construction in Goshen, said he saw a need for more expertise in the field.

“When I was a graduate of Tri-State and I started working in the industry, there was very, very, very little quality control and very little who worked in the industry who knew about quality control,” he said. “Our industry realized we needed to change.

“We figured in order to develop more enthusiasm to get students to take more courses in asphalt we would set the scholarships up.”

Beginning in 2012, APAI held a fundraiser in conjunction with Trine University’s Civil Engineering Golf Outing, with all the money raised by APAI providing scholarships for Trine civil engineering students. Funding also comes from “Shooting for Scholarships” sporting clay fundraisers that APAI holds each April and September.

“Now, it has become more formal, with students applying and holding interviews with the APAI scholarship committee on our campus in October each year,” said William Barry, Ph.D., past chair of the Reiners Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. “Several students have been awarded significant scholarships.”

The relationship has brought other benefits to the university in addition to the scholarship program. Jay Smitley, plant manager at Milestone Contractors in Berne, Indiana, and chair of the scholarship committee, annually meets with the university’s Civil Engineering Materials class to deliver a presentation on asphalt mix design and production. Smitley also provides compacted asphalt and loose mix asphalt specimens tested by students in the class as part of their laboratory experience.

Smitley and Gary Greene, Ph.D., associate professor in the Reiners Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, have developed four teaching videos detailing how the specimens are produced and tested. The videos are used in the lab experience.

The class also visits the E&B Paving asphalt plant in Angola each year, a trip coordinated by E&B employee and Trine alumnus Thane Knox BSCE 2000.

Trine students have served internships at APAI member businesses and its members have employed Trine graduates. Greene and the scholarship winners travel to the APAI winter conference in Indianapolis each year, attending conference sessions and presenting a Trine booth in the exhibition hall.

Barry said the organization also has donated equipment from industry for use in Trine’s civil engineering materials lab.

In turn, Knopf said his organization has received “a pipeline to some of the brightest, most dynamic young people in the state.”

“We are thrilled with the young people we interview for scholarships,” he said. “The Trine students who are screened for interviews really seem to have a passion for going into highway construction, whether with INDOT or one of our construction firms. They show up at our annual meeting to network with members and attend the educational sessions. They are like sponges soaking up information.”

McCormick said he is “proud and happy” that the scholarship program has continued to grow.

“Hopefully it will keep going and grow and get bigger every year,” he said.

Knopf said that overall, the program has been “very rewarding.”

“Seeing these young people makes our members feel better about supporting this scholarship program,” he said.

Photo: From left, Trine University students Nick Zak, Taylor Eash, Rebecca Goll, David Webster, Alex Duran and Rick Perry, APAI scholarship winners for 2017, attended the organization's Winter Conference. All are civil engineering majors.