F.M. Young Award still recognizing top students 64 years later

Posted on 25. Jul, 2014 by in Academic Departments, Features, Gift Report, Issues, Mechanical Engineering, People, Students

The F.M. Young Award was established so long ago that even those closest to it are unsure of details about how it began. “It started in 1950, but I really don’t know exactly how it started,” says Fred Young Jr. (top, center), who funds the award begun by his father, the late Fred M. Young.

The UW-Madison chapter of Pi Tau Sigma, an international honor society of top juniors and seniors in mechanical engineering, presents the $2,500 award annually to one of its members. The Young family has kept the award running continuously since it began 64 years ago.

The personal history of the elder Young offers clues into the award’s origins. He didn’t finish high school. Instead, at age 16 he started working as an apprentice at a factory. Due to his strong mechanical aptitude and leadership skills, he became a supervisor and went on to join the military at the outbreak of World War I. He attended officer candidate school and then served overseas as a pilot and squadron leader.

Award recipients with donor

The 2014 F.M. Young Award recipient (left) with Fred Young (center) and the 1956 recipient, Dean Emeritus John Bollinger.

Upon returning home, Young worked at Perfex Radiator Company before founding Young Radiator Company in 1927 in Racine, Wisconsin. His company produced cooling systems for automobiles, and for engines used in agriculture, off-shore energy development, railroads and aeronautics. During World War II, Young Radiator Company supplied lots of equipment for the military, and Young became a prominent figure.

Young Jr. says UW-Madison honored his father, though he’s unsure of the details. He believes his father developed a relationship with UW-Madison and the College of Engineering by virtue of the recognition, and established the award because of his considerable pride in his association with the university. “His respect for the engineering profession was great, and I think the lack of a formal professional education caused him to appreciate it even more,” says Young Jr.

Near the end of his father’s life, Young Jr. took over supporting the award and has kept it going ever since. “I felt that the award was a worthwhile concept, and I wanted to honor my father’s association with UW engineering,” he says.

Young Jr. says the award is a tradition he and his family enjoy taking part in, and he plans to continue his support for as long as he’s around.

His father’s passion for the field inspired Young Jr. to study mechanical engineering at Cornell University. As an engineer, he says the “bright and shiny” student award recipients continue to inspire him. “The award is given in recognition of the nobility of the profession, and the value of finest students entering the profession. Of course the finest students are in Pi Tau Sigma, and the crème de la crème is the winner of the F.M. Young Award,” he says.

At least one winner of the award may sound familiar: John Bollinger (pictured, right), dean of the College of Engineering from 1981 through 1999, received the F.M. Young Award in 1956.

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