After graduating from the Case Institute of Technology in 1968, Lee Swanger received a fellowship from the Hertz Foundation to pursue his PhD at Stanford University, which set him on a trajectory toward a successful career in materials forensics. Receiving that award made a lasting impression on Swanger regarding the importance of opportunities for the nation’s brightest scientists and engineers to be able to pursue their research dreams. Now, Swanger wants to pay it forward.Through a generous gift to the Case School of Engineering, Swanger has helped create the National Fellowship Recipients Research Project Fund. The award is open to any Case School of Engineering graduate students who currently hold a nationally competitive fellowship—such as from the NSF, NASA or NIH—and provides them with a monetary stipend to pursue their own ambitions, such as independent research, conference attendance or coordinating a startup company.
“My Case education was my entry into the world of leading-edge technology,” said Swanger. “Now, I want to help Case attract the best graduate students for their master’s and doctoral studies, and one way is to give them some freedom in the research they pursue.”
The fund has no set financial limit, allowing students to apply based on their need. Applications will be reviewed by the dean’s office and determined based on their merit.
“This will have a huge impact on our school and our students,” said Christian Zorman, associate dean for research. “We’ve always encouraged our students to pursue their own research interests. Now, we can bolster that with a real financial investment. So this gift has not only an immediate impact on our current students, but it will also help us in our graduate student recruitment. Prospective students will know that we offer the opportunity to not only assist our renowned faculty members with their research projects, but also to receive support for their own, independent research endeavors.”
“I hope to inspire other Case alumni who value their Case education to give back to their alma mater in a way that will make our engineering school an even more important part of research and education in America.”
Swanger, who is celebrating 50 years as a Case Western Reserve alum, is currently a principal engineer and director of the Miami, Fla., office of Exponent Inc., a leading engineering and scientific services consulting firm. He’s helped clients like the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and commercial nuclear power plants solve critical materials problems, and has testified at trial as an expert witness more than 100 times. He received his bachelor’s degree in metallurgy from Case and his PhD from Stanford in materials science and engineering in 1972, with fellowship support from Xerox Corporation and IBM, in addition to the Hertz Foundation.
“I hope to inspire other Case alumni who value their Case education to give back to their alma mater in a way that will make our engineering school an even more important part of research and education in America,” said Swanger.