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UAH engineering scholarship fund receives $3.1M donation

HUNTSVILLE – A $3.1 million gift from an alumnus of the University of Alabama in Huntsville College of Engineering will enable the college to attract even more of the best engineering students from around the world and across town through the endowed Andrew and Betty Ventre Memorial Fellowship Fund.

This fund will provide a full graduate scholarship to its recipients as well as a graduate stipend assistance, health insurance and other related costs and benefits.

Dr. Andrew James Ventre received his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering in 1971 and 1976, respectively, from UAH. He also served as a guest lecturer in the UAH engineering department.

“We are extremely grateful to the Ventre family for their generous gift that makes it possible for us to provide financial support to outstanding graduate students pursuing Ph.D. degrees in the College of Engineering at UAH,” said Dr. Shankar Mahalingam, dean of the  College of Engineering. “The Andrew and Betty Ventre Memorial Fellowship will enable the college to graduate additional Ph.D. students and help boost our national and international ranking in research.”

Andrew Ventre, a native of New Jersey, had a long career in the aerospace and defense industry, including employment at Brown Engineering, CSC and Boeing in Huntsville. He worked on the manned space program and defense programs.

He married his wife, Betty Carolyn Hyde, in 1965.

“Andrew was drawn to engineering based on inherited engineering and mechanical talents from our mother and father and their families,” said his brother, Louis Ventre Jr., a patent attorney. He recalls that they often saw their mechanically inclined father, Louis Ventre Sr., rebuilding motors.

“My parents instilled in each of us the love of education,” said their sister, Nina Ventre Robinson. She didn’t follow her brothers’ engineering interests, instead earning R.N., B.S. and M.B.A. degrees. “I am so proud that Andrew’s endowment is able to assist young people to attend The University of Alabama in Huntsville.”

After founding his own engineering consulting company, Computrol, Andrew Ventre provided expert engineering analysis for several defense programs until his death in 2020. Betty Ventre died in 2021.

“Andrew really thought a lot of UAH and was a huge alumni member. He supported UAH every chance he could,” said Dr. David W. Hyde, a nephew of the Ventres. “They lived in the same house they’d lived in since the ’60s. He didn’t waste his money. He was glad to give it to UAH.”

Ventre’s drive and intelligence made a strong impression on Hyde.

“It seemed like every time I talked to him, he was working on something that was very important,” Hyde said. “He probably was the smartest person I ever met.”

Ventre influenced Hyde to become an engineer and to attend UAH. Hyde holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and master’s and doctoral degrees in computer engineering, all from UAH.

“Then I influenced my son, Curran,” Hyde said. “I told him he could go anywhere he wanted, but he said, ‘Why would I go anywhere else? UAH has a great engineering program, and all the jobs are in Huntsville.’”

Curran Hyde received his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from UAH in 2020.

Andrew Ventre’s influence in the engineering field went far beyond family ties, as Hyde realized one day while talking to a senior engineer who was leading the development of complex math models for ultrawideband radio systems.

“I asked him how he learned some of the material that he was using,” Hyde said. “He said, ‘I had a really good mentor, Andrew Ventre.’ He didn’t even know that I knew Andrew at all. That was really impressive to me.”

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