Ferris State University’s nationally recognized Welding Engineering Technology program is getting a boost from a former professor who wants to help students working toward a career in the in-demand field.
Joseph Mikols, who taught at Ferris from 1986 until his retirement in 2000, and his wife, Linda, created an endowment fund through their estate to provide scholarships to students majoring in Welding Engineering Technology as well as to purchase needed equipment.
“Joe and Linda are particularly passionate about helping students,” said Carla Miller, executive director of The Ferris Foundation. “We are extremely grateful to them for their longtime support of Ferris State University. Their legacy will touch the lives of so many students forever.”
The Joseph S. Mikols Scholarship and Welding Program Laboratory Equipment Endowment Fund will be divided equally to support an annual scholarship and to purchase equipment for welding automation and fabrication, and weldment testing.
“After spending 35 years as a welding engineer and then as a welding engineering educator, I wanted to do something to demonstrate my commitment to helping students develop skills that will position them for optimal industry employment,” said Mikols, an emeritus member of The Ferris Foundation Board of Directors. “Serving on the Welding Engineering Technology faculty gave me an appreciation for the excellent education and training our students receive; the quality of the faculty is world-class. Evidence of that can be seen in the top-level jobs our students secure upon graduation and the growth and advancement they subsequently achieve in the industry.”
His service on the Ferris Foundation board made Mikols more aware of “how an endowment can help bridge funding gaps during cyclical variances in income as well as provide startup money to launch new initiatives or expand existing ones.
“We felt the endowment was simply the best way to ensure the long-term continuation of a very successful program,” Mikols said.
The scholarship will be awarded to a sophomore, junior or senior undergraduate student majoring in Welding Engineering Technology, as determined by the department’s standing scholarship committee in conjunction with the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. The award may be applied to tuition, fees, room and board, or other education-related expenses.
“One of our main motivations to fund scholarships through this endowment is so that students can reduce the level of debt they accumulate upon graduation,” Mikols said. “When I served on the Foundation board’s Gifts and Grants committee, I not only saw how much need there is for some of our students, but I was inspired to hear the sacrifices and heartaches students often incur to achieve their educational goals. Anything we can do to alleviate the financial stress of students assures that students gain the full benefit of their education.”
Mikols, an associate professor of Welding Engineering Technology from 1986 until his retirement in 2000, continues to do consulting work in the industry. He also continues to support the work of the Ferris Foundation by serving on its Gifts and Grants Committee.
He is a member of the American Welding Society and past member of the American Society for Metals. He received the American Welding Society Adams Memorial Membership Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1992. He also served as the section chairman, vice chairman and on the section scholarship committee of the American Welding Society.
Before he began teaching at Ferris, Mikols was the chief metallurgist/welding engineer for Townsend and Bottum, a power plant construction company in Ann Arbor, and in the welding engineering department at Dow Chemical in Midland. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University and a master’s degree in Welding Engineering from The Ohio State University.
The Mikols are members of the university’s Carillon and Abigail Smith Timme Societies of Distinction.
Ferris’ Welding Engineering Technology program, housed in the College of Engineering Technology’s School of Design and Manufacturing, is the largest of its kind in the United States. The program is designed to produce plant-level graduates who are involved in the concept, design and engineering of weldments and implementation of welding processes.
“There is a high demand for welding engineers within the numerous careers and industries which use their expertise,” said Larry Schult, dean of the College of Engineering Technology. “The fact that they design welds and welding systems for every aspect of whatever industry they end up working for is key. They can also very successfully troubleshoot any problems or can create more efficiencies for the companies that they go to work for.”
The Mikols endowment will help attract future students as well as assist current students in need, he said.
“The scholarship will also serve as motivation for students to excel within the program,” Schult said. “It attracts top high school and transfer students to it already, and this scholarship will help maintain and increase that high standard.”
Ferris’ Board of Trustees approved the administration’s request to proceed with pre-construction design of the Swan Building Annex renovation project. The Swan Annex is the primary home of the Welding Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Technology programs. The proposed expansion will double the instructional and laboratory space, and create a Center for Advanced Manufacturing in an effort to serve current student enrollment and address industry demand for graduates.
“The welding laboratories are expanding, and this equipment will aid in assuring that all students get this very important part of their education,” Schult said. “Our students are not only taught theory, but are able to practically apply it and implement it into real-life laboratory experiences.”
The Mikols’ dedication of funds to equipment purchase ensures students will have cutting-edge technology at their disposal.
“While our industry partners are very generous in making equipment donations, there are supplies and supplemental equipment that are needed to maintain and optimize the gifts from industry,” he said. “In an age of dwindling operating budgets, endowments can support efforts to preserve the high quality of our laboratory learning centers.”
Both Joe and Linda Mikols grew up in families that taught them to appreciate and value a good education, he said.
“We are both proud of the FSU mission, and we want to do our small part in preserving the quality of the experience our students receive and to demonstrate that we have faith in the future of the FSU Welding Engineering Technology program,” Joe said. “We want to support opportunities for succeeding generations of students who choose Ferris.”
For more information about the Mikols scholarship or to make a contribution, contact The Ferris Foundation at (231) 591-2365 or [email protected].