A Piece of OSU
Memorial scholarship gives lasting life to aerospace engineering student
College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Honors College Research Memorial Scholarships
Eagle Scout. Letterman swimmer. Stout Hall RA.
Kyle Bruggemeyer was not your typical aerospace engineering student. Even before high-school graduation, space was his passion, and he was dead set on chasing his dreams at Purdue University. Bruggemeyer and his parents had visited the campus, confirmed his decision and were ready to set off to West Lafayette, Indiana.
Then a Slinky came in the mail.
A school south of Bruggemeyer's Kansas home had sent it. A few short months later, he was walking the OSU campus as a freshman. Lured by a fun recruiting ploy, he soon immersed himself in the Cowboy culture and was a seamless fit.
Bruggemeyer's mother, Patti, recalls his effortless acclimation to Stout Hall, which offers housing for those enrolled in the Honors College. She says he immediately made several friends and fell in love with everything about OSU, especially the X-Hab Challenge that was part of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering program.
At one point, Bruggemeyer and his friends had so much fun with their projects that they attracted the attention of law enforcement while driving a rocket out to a test field. Kyle's father, Kurt, says the aerospace students had the device in Kyle's small SUV, and an officer who pulled them over soon realized he was dealing with harmless engineers.
Jamey Jacob, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, says Bruggemeyer was a passionate student who had immense consideration for others and spread his enthusiasm for airplanes and space shuttles.
Kyle Bruggemeyer, third from the right, gives a tour of the X-Hab space habitat that is being named after him.
Bruggemeyer graduated in 2013 and accepted an engineering position with Goken America in Columbus, Ohio, where his focus was providing CATIA engineer design work in support of Honda of America Automobile Manufacturing. His fun-loving personality and excitement for the industry found him in the same situation as his early years at Oklahoma State.
Although somewhat disappointed that his first job was not an aerospace-engineering position, Bruggemeyer, in typical fashion, attacked the job with the dedication and vigor that he displayed at OSU. Bruggemeyer's talents did not go unnoticed as he was quickly identified by his superiors as one of the youngest engineers to be part of a Honda new car design team.
"He won over the crowd out there very quickly," says his dad. "Kyle liked the idea of getting to start on the ground floor with a growing company and never lost sight of working toward aerospace."
Bruggemeyer had already mapped out his future within the company, planning on earning his master's in propulsion and then moving on to become a team member at Honda Aero, Inc., a jet-engine manufacturing company.
In January 2014, Bruggemeyer's dreams were tragically cut short when, while riding as a passenger in a car pool returning from work, he was killed at the age of 22 in a car crash in Ohio.
Soon after the accident, his parents began to realize their son's impact on his peers. Friend and classmate Amelia Wilson, a 2013 aerospace engineering and Spanish graduate, contacted the Bruggemeyers to ask about organizing an effort on behalf of Kyle.
Wilson, 22 at the time, suggested a memorial fund to honor Kyle's life. His parents were touched.
"It honors Kyle and his drive to reach a goal," says his father. "The scholarship will help future students do just that."
Wilson worked with the Bruggemeyers and the OSU Foundation to set up a fund and coordinate gifts to reach the endowment requirements. Between herself and Kyle's family, they were able to connect with friends, family and coworkers across the country who were all willing to pay tribute to Kyle by donating to his memorial fund.
Patti Bruggemeyer says it is heartwarming to see the response to Kyle's fund.
"You always think your kid is a good kid," she says. "You just never know what other people may think of your child, and you never know the impact your kids make on people. It was very reassuring."
The parents saw first-hand how special Kyle was through more than just the creation of the fund. His OSU and Goken family came from across the country to attend Kyle's memorial and some maintain a relationship with the Bruggemeyers.
Patti shares a story about a friend of Kyle's who currently works for NASA in Houston. Patti, her husband and the eldest of Kyle's two younger brothers got matching tattoos of a space shuttle that Kyle had drawn. She sent a picture of them to Kyle's friend, who responded with a story of her own image of a space shuttle. Kyle's friend relayed how she had just completed her move from Stillwater to Houston when she had unpacked a whiteboard she had used at OSU. A dry erase image of a space shuttle survived the move intact. Even the artist's signature remained intact — Kyle Bruggemeyer.
The gestures continue as Kurt and Patti occasionally receive texts and emails from Kyle's friends. Next year, they will also get to see his name next to NASA's X-Hab space habitat, which he helped create, when it is named after him.
Wilson also remains special to the Bruggemeyers as her involvement with the fund continues. Her philanthropic efforts, along with the efforts of the entire Bruggemeyer family, send an inspiring message to all people and demonstrate the power of giving.
"After the accident happened, I realized this was a great way to keep Kyle alive and to honor his family, specifically his parents," says Wilson. "I can't imagine what they went through and what they're going through today, but I want them to know OSU cares and his friends care about Kyle. We're going to remember him forever."
Kyle touched the lives of countless people at OSU and beyond. He will be remembered as a loving son, an enthusiastic student and the fun guy who left his dorm-room door open for anyone having a bad day to come in and play video games.
The Kyle Bruggemeyer Memorial Scholarship was awarded for the first time in fall 2014 and will continue to improve the lives and inspire the dreams of future aerospace students thanks to all who generously gave and continue to give.
Kyle's story will live on through the efforts of his peers, especially Wilson. Despite her amazing actions at such a young age, she keeps the focus on more than herself.
"Maybe you only have $10 today to give to the organization that means the most to you, but philanthropy is about giving your time and your money to things that matter to you," says Wilson. "OSU is where I met Kyle, and for me, this fund is an important thing to do because we'll always have a little bit of OSU. I can say I helped make that, and other people are going to benefit from it."