List of the Fellowship

George I. Alden Fund

Arvid and Marietta Anderson Fellowship

Axel F. Backlin Tuition Scholarship

Robert and Esther Goddard Fellowship Fund

Norton Co. Fellowship

Robert S. Parks Endowment for Small Group Living Programs & Graduate Fellowship

Harold Lesher Pierson '14 Memorial Fellowship

Helen E. Stoddard Fellowship in Materials Science and Engineering

Carl and Inez Weidenmiller Fellowship

George I. Alden Fund
Established in 1929
Donor: George I. Alden Trust

The George I. Alden Trust was established by Professor Alden to continue his generous philanthropy after his death. He was a member of WPI's first faculty in 1868 and headed the Mechanical Engineering Department. He was one of the founders of Norton Co. in 1885, but continued at WPI until 1896 when he left to devote full time to his business.

One of his last projects at WPI was the establishment of the Alden Hydraulic Laboratory (later the Alden Research Laboratory) in the nearby town of Holden. Here he found an ideal site with a ponded stream. The owner, he learned, was Stephen Salisbury III, a man he knew well. Salisbury, a WPI trustee, willingly gave the college the 240 acres and the water rights.

The Alden Research Laboratory has long been recognized for its work in flow measurement, basic research in flow characteristics, analysis of hydraulic structures, and simulation of large-scale fluid-flow conditions through the use of models. Today the laboratory is incorporated as a for-profit research center.

Arvid and Marietta Anderson Fellowship
Established in 1987
Donor: Arvid E. Anderson '20

"I saw the need." So explained Arvid E. Anderson '20 when asked what prompted him to undertake the research that resulted in 73 patents during his 41-year career with General Electric Co. "Many of my own initiative rather than having a problem given to me," he once said.

A more personal side of Arvid Anderson was revealed in 1983 when he set up a fund to provide annual prizes to outstanding women students at WPI. He chose this way to honor his wife and companion of 60 years after her death that year.

Anderson was born on a farm in Falmouth, Mass., in 1897, the son of a Swedish immigrant farmer. While attending the Falmouth public schools he earned his first amateur radio license, which proved to be the beginning of a lifelong interest in radio. He entered WPI with the Class of 1919, but like so many of his fellow students, had to interrupt his education for military service during World War I.

He went to work for GE after graduation and three weeks later applied for his first patent. Thus began a career as one of the country's foremost experts on switchgear and control devices. The company awarded Anderson its prestigious Charles A. Coffin Award in 1942, citing him for his unusual foresight in anticipating new and distinctive trends in the design of relays.

At his death in 1986, he remembered his alma mater again with a bequest of approximately $250,000 as a further memorial to his wife. In their memory WPI has established the Arvid and Marietta Anderson Fellowship Endowment, in addition to the original prize fund. Income from the fund supports an outstanding woman graduate student during her first year of doctoral studies at WPI.

Axel F. Backlin Tuition Scholarship
Established in 1957
Donor: Axel F. Backlin

Axel F. Backlin, a native of Sweden, attended WPI, but left before receiving his degree to become a draftsman for Washburn & Moen Co. Under the tutelage of Fred H. Daniels, he rose to the position of chief draftsman. When Daniels died in 1913, he took over responsibility for the engineering department.

Backlin continued with the company after it was bought by American Steel & Wire Co. and moved to Cleveland. He stayed on a consulting engineer after his retirement.

It was at the time of his sudden death in an automobile accident in 1929 that WPI became aware of his bequest for the purpose of creating scholarships for WPI students.

The bequest specified that the funds remain in trust for the benefit of his widow and other heirs during their lifetimes. In 1957 the funds were made available to WPI to serve the wishes of the donor.

Robert and Esther Goddard Fellowship Fund
Established in 1984
Donor: Esther Goddard

Robert H. Goddard is known throughout the world as the Father of Modern Rocketry. Practically every basic principle of present-day rocket propulsion was developed by this brilliant man. Educated as a physicist and born with the natural aptitude of an engineer. Yet to his WPI classmates in the class of 1908, he was simply "Bob...with the accent on the second syllable."

Bob Goddard was editor of his senior year book. He wrote a college song and was a popular class leader. Even as a student he knew his life's goal. He dreamed of developing a rocket to reach high altitudes. After he earned his WPI degree in general science, he went to nearby Clark University to pursue graduate studies in physics, since at that time WPI did not offer advanced study in that field. He earned his doctorate at Clark and remained there as a member of the faculty until his death in 1945.

In 1926 he startled the town of Auburn, Mass., by successfully launching the world's first liquid-fueled rocket from his Aunt Effie's pasture. The concern of residents as well as the unflattering newspaper accounts of his belief that someday men would reach the moon prompted Goddard to conduct most of his subsequent research on uninhabited rangeland near Roswell, N.M.

Goddard enjoyed the support of the few who appreciated the significance of his work. These included the Smithsonian Institution, The Guggenheim Foundation, Col. Charles A. Lindberg, and a loyal crew of machinists and technicians who survived with him from grant to grant. But the greatest supporter of all was his wife, Esther.

Esther Kisk was a secretary in the president's office at Clark when they first met. He prevailed upon her to help in typing his reports. She became interested in his work and soon began helping record the data from his experiments. Perhaps inspired by his example, Esther left Clark to enroll as a student at Bates College.

Before she completed her work at Bates, Goddard was appointed head of the department of physics at Clark. And, in spite of a considerable difference in their ages, she accepted his proposal of marriage. She eventually earned her degree at Johns Hopkins University while he was conducting research in Maryland for the Navy during World War II. This was but a short time before he died.

Widespread recognition of the importance of Goddard's pioneering rocket studies came only after his death, Yet he, like other great men and women of science, could have been relegated to the musty pages of textbook history and obscure technical journals had it not been for Esther Goddard.

She was indefatigable in her efforts to ensure that Robert Hutchins Goddard be accorded the recognition he had earned but not lived to enjoy. As one of his closest associates during his years of research, she became a respected spokesperson for the rocket research community. She served on technical panels and on committees. She was eagerly sought after as speaker.

When it became apparent that the government was infringing on Goddard's basic patents, she sued and eventually won a judgment, which she shared with the loyal backers of his pioneering research. She dedicated her life to the goal of establishing her husband's reputation for all time. Her principal project was editing the journals that Goddard had kept throughout his adult life. This task took nearly 30 years, soon after the Goddard journals were published, Esther Goddard became ill, and though she lived for several years, her public life ended with the completion of her life's work.

Esther and Robert Goddard were remarkable persons. Both treasured the simple pleasures of life and the friends they had made. They looked forward to Class of 1908 reunions, where he played the piano and led the singing. After his death Esther was made an honorary member of the class and continued to attend the reunions. In 1969 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from WPI.

She was loyal to WPI and Clark University, each institution having played major roles in the lives of Robert and Esther Goddard. In her will she divided the bulk of her estate between these two institutions.

Proceeds from this fund are used to underwrite the Robert Hutchins Goddard Fellowship.

Norton Co. Fellowship
Established in 1990
Donor: Norton Co.

This endowed graduate fellowship provides financial support for a WPI graduate research assistant. This is one of the first endowed corporate fellowships at WPI. Its establishment recognizes the vital interdependence of industry and engineering education which, in the case of Norton and WPI, has lasted for more than a century.

Holders of corporate fellowships will most likely be involved in graduate-level research projects that relate to the corporate interests of the donor firm.

Robert S. Parks Endowment for Small Group Living Programs & Graduate Fellowship
Established in 1989
Donor: Robert S. Parks '93

Robert S. Parks '93 once commented with a touch of sadness that his class really should have been 1892. He then related how President Homer T. Fuller had caught him whistling in the corridor of Boynton Hall. For his sin he was kept after school and made to sit in a room like an errant grade-schooler. Parks considered this an indignity and walked out. Because of this he was not allowed to graduate with his class.

Fortunately Parks was not one to hold a grudge. He was to become one of WPI's most loyal and generous alumni. When a change in the Massachusetts Constitution cut off state funding to private educational institutions, Parks was among the alumni who organized a fund-raising campaign to make up the loss to WPI. It was not until many years later that Parks was identified as the person responsible for the effective publicity developed for that 1920 campaign. That was also the year that alumni achieved representation on the Board of Trustees. Parks was one of the first five alumni elected.

After graduation he joined G.M. Parks Co., the Fitchburg, Mass., supplier of pipe owned by his father. The young Parks soon became treasurer and later general manager of the firm. By 1931 he was chairman of the board of Parks Cramer Co. Under his leadership, the firm became a leader in industrial air conditioning and humidity control.

Parks once expressed the opinion that he should have been a writer or artist instead of an engineer. In fact, he did become a writer. For many years he published a popular company magazine he called Park's Parables. Parks was a public relations man long before the term became part of the lexicon of American business.

Robert Parks left the bulk of his estate to his alma mater when he died in 1967, with the provision that Dorothy P. Lindsay, his daughter and the only one of his three children to survive him, should be the beneficiary of the estate's income throughout her lifetime. She died in 1987 at the age of 90.

Of the Parks gift, $1 million has been used to create an endowment the college can use to build or maintain small group student living centers, or to enhance the small group living experience on campus-for example, through the purchase of art or sculpture. The remainder of the gift endowed a new graduate fellowship, preference in the awarding of which will be given to students in electrical engineering.

Harold Lesher Pierson '14 Memorial Fellowship
Established in 1989
Donor: Mr. and Mrs. J. Headen Thompson '36

This endowed fund was created by Mr. and Mrs. J. Headen Thompson as a memorial to Mrs. Thompson's father, Harold Lesher Pierson '14. It is the wish of the donors that income from this fund be used to support a graduate student whose research in an area related to medicine is likely to result in near-term benefits to mankind.

Harold L. Pierson enrolled at WPI in 1909 to study chemistry. Never in robust health, he suffered a near-fatal bout of typhoid fever during the summer before his senior year; as a result, he graduated a year later, with the Class of 1914. Despite the illness, he later realized his goal of climbing to the summit of Maine's Mount Katahdin at the age of 35.

Pierson's field of expertise was metallurgy and he garnered numerous patents for new alloys and assigned them to his employer, American Brass Co. in Torrington Conn., a subsidiary of Anaconda Copper and Mining Co. He became technical supervisor in 1927 and held this post until his death in 1939.

His daughter recalls that his happiest moments were spent fishing for trout with a dry fly and casting rod at his favorite camp at Lake Soundnahunk, Maine. "His death," his daughter noted in a letter to WPI, "ended a life of compassion for his fellow man, of usefulness to his employer and his community, and of loving support for his family."

J. Headen Thompson earned his degree from WPI in electrical engineering in 1936. After graduation he joined The Torrington Co., where he spent his entire professional career. At the time of his retirement he was the company's chief plant engineer.

Helen E. Stoddard Fellowship in Materials Science and Engineering
Established in 1988
Donor: Stoddard Charitable Trust

In creating this fellowship, WPI honored Helen Estabrook Stoddard, a woman who indirectly influenced WPI's history for decades. Her husband, Robert W. Stoddard, served on WPI's Board of Trustees for more than 30 years. Born in Worcester, Helen Stoddard graduated from Vassar College and the Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School in Boston. She married Robert Stoddard in 1933. She was widely respected for her philanthropic work in Worcester. This fellowship also pays special tribute to WPI's ties to Wyman-Gordon Co., which was headed for many years by Robert Stoddard. Founded by two WPI graduates more than a century ago, the company has maintained a long and productive relationship with the WPI's materials program. The program today is housed in Stoddard Laboratories, named for Robert Stoddard. The Stoddard Residence Center and the Stoddard Professorship in Management, named for Stoddard's father, Harry G. Stoddard, are further tributes to the long ties between WPI and the Stoddard family. 


Carl and Inez Weidenmiller Fellowship
Established in 1990
Donor: Carl Weidenmiller '11

When he died in 1961, Carl Weidenmiller left a trust fund for his wife, Inez, half of which was to come to WPI upon her death. By the time Inez passed away in 1986, the fund had increased by a factor of five, and WPI established this fund in the Weidenmillers' memory. A portion of the bequest was used to establish the Carl and Inez Widenmiller Fellowship. The remaining portioin will be used to meet current needs in manufacturing and mechanical engineering.

Carl Weidenmiller was a native of Worcester. He graduated from WPI in 1911 with a degree in electrical engineering. He worked briefly for the Westinghouse Air Brake Co., but the rest of his long and successful career was spent entirely with the Washburn Wire Co. He began as a draftsman in the company's Philipston, R.I., plant. Most of his career with Washburn was spent at the company's New York City headquarters. At the time of his retirement he was president of the company. Inez Weidenmiller had studied music and performed as a mezzo-soprano before marrying Carl in New York City in 1938.

According to those who knew him, Carl had "genuine human warmth and interest in others," a quality that is evident in his generosity toward his alma mater.


George F. Fuller(middle) and Harry Stoddard(right)

Helen Stoddard(left) and Roy Bourgault

From left to rigth: Jean & George Hazzard, Joseph Carter and Helen Stoddard

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Last modified: July 14, 2011 09:41:09