Scholarship Program Builds Foundation

OSU sends five engineering students to the University of Cambridge

College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Graduate College international-studies Engineering

Five recent graduates from the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology made history by being admitted into one of the most prestigious universities in the world. The University of Cambridge has one of the lowest acceptance rates in higher education and selects only a limited number of engineering graduate students for its master's in philosophy degree each year. In 2015, nearly 20 percent of those students came from OSU.

The students admitted are Eric Gilbert, industrial engineering and management graduate from Edmond, Oklahoma; Kathleen Nelson, mechanical engineering graduate from Oklahoma City; Eric Ruhlmann, mechanical engineering graduate from Oklahoma City; Peter Storm, biosystems engineering graduate from Stillwater, Oklahoma; and Philip White, mechanical engineering graduate from Edmond, Oklahoma.

Four of the five students – Gilbert, Ruhlmann, Storm and White – are members of the college's most elite scholarship program — the W.W. Allen Scholars Program. Since 2002, the program has recruited top engineering students from the region to receive full funding for their undergraduate education at OSU and one year at Cambridge following completion of their four-year degree.

"Since Cambridge is one of the top universities in the world, their acceptance is a wonderful achievement for the students as well as OSU," said Wayne Allen, former chairman and CEO of Phillips Petroleum Company and founder of the W.W. Allen Scholars Program. "We have a world-class engineering program with the Allen Scholars, and it attracts the best of the best."

Historically, the program has sent one to two students in a year, but this year's numbers demonstrate the long-term success of the program. Students who participate receive professional development training, build leadership skills and experience cultural activities as part of the all-encompassing program curriculum. These unique opportunities, combined with the mentorship of Allen, give students an in-depth look at industry and prepare them to be the candidates of choice post-graduation.

CEAT Scholarship Coordinator Amanda Williams says the students get to bond with Allen during meetings throughout their time at OSU, and they truly appreciate his guidance. Through her interactions with the students, she has seen them connect with him and develop the same aspirations he had as a student. They apply those mentorship skills to the underclassmen around them by encouraging other students to care about the college and about their careers.

When asked about their time at OSU and how it will affect their futures, the students point out that they would not be where they were without the support and generosity of those who built and implemented the program. The students going to Cambridge look forward to a time when they can give back.

"I want to thank Oklahoma State, CEAT and Mr. Wayne Allen for creating the environment that has allowed me to pursue my academic and professional goals," White said. "I cannot explain the gratitude I have for those who made the last four years of my life so enriching."

Not all of the students admitted to Cambridge were part of the Allen Scholars Program as undergraduates, but the experience is just as exciting and significant. Nelson was a member of the CEAT Scholars Program, another prominent group of high-achieving CEAT students, and the only female accepted into the university from OSU.

From serving as a Society of Women Engineers officer to co-founding the mentoring organization Women Inspiring Successful Engineers, Nelson spent her time on campus encouraging and empowering the next generation of females in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Her work ethic and academic success earned Nelson the Lew Wentz Research Award for Undergraduate Research and landed her a spot in the engineering graduate program with four of her peers.

The CEAT Scholars program offers competitive funding for undergraduate studies as well as professional development, leadership and cultural experiences, but it does not include funding for a graduate degree. The financial situation has left Nelson still determining if she will be able to attend.

"If I am able to attend Cambridge, it will be one of the most incredible experiences of my life," Nelson said. "Simply attending school in a place enriched with so much history and academic prestige will open up opportunities I cannot yet imagine."

Regardless of total attendance in the fall, this elite group's accomplishments provide an inspiring model for up and coming CEAT students. The bar is set high and students moving through the program after these five are just as determined and eager to achieve even greater feats. Thanks to loyal supporters and generous contributors such as Allen, CEAT students will continue to have the education and skills needed to carry on this legacy of excellence.


The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university.