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Scholarship celebrates a life of discovery

Thanks to the newly established Dr. Thomas C. McGill, Jr. Memorial Scholarship in Engineering, engineering students at Lamar University will be awarded financial assistance that will help fund their education and allow them to focus on their studies.

The scholarship was established by McGill’s friend and classmate H. Stephen Grace, Jr. as a way for McGill’s other colleagues to honor his memory.

A pioneer of research in semiconductors, Thomas McGill was a native of Port Arthur. He received his B.S. in electrical engineering and math from Lamar State College of Technology in 1964 and his M.S. and doctorate from Caltech in 1965 and 1969, followed by postdoctoral appointments at the University of Bristol in England and Princeton University.

McGill joined Caltech in 1971 as a member of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, the first faculty member to be hired in the new discipline of applied physics. He was the Fletcher Jones Professor of applied physics from 1985-1999 and in 2008 became emeritus professor.

McGill authored and coauthored hundreds of publications and directed the theses of more than 50 Ph.D. students in electrical engineering, physics and applied physics.

He served 30 years as a consultant to the Defense Science Research Council of the Defense Advance Research Project Administration, at one pointe chairing the Materials Research Council of the agency. He was named a DARPA Senior Fellow.

From 1994-1996, he was a member of the congressionally mandated Semiconductor Technology Council. From 1994-1998, he served on the executive panel of the Chief of Naval Operations.

Always supportive of higher education, McGill served on the visiting committees of the engineering departments and research institutes at Stanford, Princeton, the University of Illinois, Caltech and Lamar University.

“There was nothing Tom enjoyed more than working with students,” said his wife, Toby McGill. “He cherished their enthusiasm and zest for discovery. Hopefully this scholarship will enable its recipients to reach their full potentials and use their skills to make the world a better place. Nothing would make Tom happier or prouder.”

He founded two high-tech companies, GaNROSE Corp., to develop gallium nitride-based power electronics, and 61 Systems, to develop sensors, decision systems and games.

The scholarship is open to full-time students of all majors in the College of Engineering who meet the college’s current entrance exam qualifications. It is open to all undergraduate and graduate class levels with a preference for incoming freshmen. To maintain the scholarship, recipients must maintain a 3.0 GPA.

For more information about establishing an endowed scholarship, contact Lamar University Development at (409) 880-8422.