Engineering Scholarship Fills Unmet Need

Bill and Anna Rita Neuman

Bill Neuman and his wife, Anna Rita

More than 20 years ago, Bill Neuman served on a national scholarship committee for engineering students who needed financial help. It quickly became apparent that across the country there were "an awful lot of applicants and not a lot of money."

That's when the longtime Sacramento State engineering professor decided to launch a local scholarship, one that could immediately benefit the engineering students he saw daily on campus.

Together with his wife, Anna Rita, along with the widow of an early Sac State engineering dean, they created a new scholarship endowment in 1998. Today it is one of the longest-running engineering scholarship funds within the College of Engineering & Computer Science.

"Students need support and encouragement. And individuals need a place to give," says Bill, who retired in 1997 after 35 years teaching civil engineering. "When we launched this, there wasn't any place to give money for engineering student scholarships. There was an unmet need."

Started in 1998, the scholarship fund—known simply as the Engineering General Scholarship of Sac State—is administered by the University Foundation at Sacramento State.

Over the last two decades, it has given about $1,200 annually to a junior or senior engineering student for books, tuition or other school-related expenses. Applicants must write a short essay on their goals and aspirations, plus submit a resume, transcript of grades and recommendations by faculty advisors.

Bill, a native Sacramentan who holds a master's in civil engineering from Stanford University, is a big believer in the value of a California State University education. "It's the access for many first-generation students who want a chance to better themselves. And it's the best higher education bargain in the country."

Bill should know: He earned his undergraduate civil engineering degree at Sac State in 1961.

Equipped with a combination of strong academics and hands-on projects, Sac State engineering graduates often have an advantage over their less experienced peers at other prestigious universities, Bill notes. "Sac State engineers are able to be productive from their first day on the job. Employers want our graduates."

A father of three and grandparent of six, Bill believes that supporting the next generation of engineers is essential.

"Civil engineering is the oil that makes society work and makes civilization possible," he says, noting that civil engineers are responsible for infrastructure—structures, geotechnics, transportation—and the environment—water, air, waste. "It's a rewarding profession because you can see the tangible results of what you do. You solve problems."

By providing a longstanding scholarship for aspiring engineers, Bill and Anna Rita hope that their giving will inspire others. "We wanted to create a scholarship where local alumni could participate," Bill says. "We're hoping that we created an available way for people who want to give."

If you are interested in giving to scholarships to support students at Sacramento State, please contact Lora L. Hollingsworth at (916) 278-6115 or lora.hollingsworth@csus.edu.