The family of the late NASCAR racing champion Alan Kulwicki, an alumnus of the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (UWM), has pledged a gift to UWM that will fund engineering scholarships to honor Kulwicki’s legacy.
The Thelma H. Kulwicki University Charitable Lead Annuity Trust was created by Kulwicki’s stepmother to support engineering education at both UWM and at the University of North Carolina–Charlotte.
The trust will award about $630,000 over the next 25 years to support need-based student scholarships at UWM and also to establish the Alan Kulwicki Memorial Student Center on the first floor of the Engineering and Mathematical Sciences building. The Kulwicki family also made a commitment of nearly $1.9 million to the Motorsports Engineering Program in the William States Lee College of Engineering at UNC–Charlotte.
Alan Kulwicki graduated in 1977 from UWM with a degree in mechanical engineering. The Greenfield, Wis. native also received a UWM distinguished alumnus award in 1992, the year he won the Winston Cup Series title by the closest margin in the series history – beating Bill Elliott by 10 points. Less than a year later, he died in a plane crash.
He was the first college graduate to win stock car racing’s premier title, now called the “Sprint Cup Series.”
“This was something Alan was very proud of and for him it ranked right up there with all his victories,” said Thelma Kulwicki. “Alan was a firm believer in the inherent value of education and his academic experiences helped him to overcome some big odds and achieve great things.”
A group of engineering student leaders is advising on the design of the student lounge at UWM, which will provide meeting and work areas for engineering student organizations. The space will also include a display of donated memorabilia from Alan Kulwicki’s life and career.
Construction of the student lounge is scheduled to begin in December and open in May 2010.
“Alan Kulwicki, the most famous alumnus of our college, succeeded through his entrepreneurial, technical and leadership skills,” says CEAS Dean Michael Lovell. “At UWM, we strive to impart those same qualities in our students today. Alan’s legacy and his connection to UWM still resonates deeply with our students.”
CEAS was established at UWM in 1964. The college serves about 1,900 students each year and is a leading provider of engineering graduates to local industry.