Young Alumnus Creates Inertia for Student Engineers

Nov. 2, 2016
Allen McLeod

If there is one physics principle Allen McLeod can appreciate, it’s that of inertia – the reality that, as defined by Sir Isaac Newton, “An object at rest stays at rest until acted upon by an outside force, and once in motion continues in motion.”

In fact, McLeod, a 2014 graduate of George Fox’s mechanical engineering program, related to the concept so much that he decided to name his newly created, fully endowed scholarship – intended for students in George Fox’s engineering major – the “Inertia Fund.”

The scholarship was made at an exciting time for the College of Engineering, which recently opened a new collaborative design-build space, the Engineering Innovation Center, which equips current and future students to learn at the highest levels.

McLeod comes by his affinity for Newton’s First Law honestly. As a sophomore at George Fox, he received a full-ride scholarship from the Raymond H. Berner Memorial Foundation, covering all of his tuition expenses his final three years at the university. Now he wishes to put the principle of perpetuity into action.

“I chose to start a scholarship, which is very small in comparison to what I was given, but hopefully it can grow and have a significant impact for a lot of students. I was given a lot, and I’m starting to give back with this,” he explains.

And while McLeod is reluctant to divulge the exact amount of the gift, the minimum commitment to start any scholarship at the university is $5,000. His desire to create inertia is also apparent in the decision to endow the award, meaning it will be invested and pay toward the scholarship indefinitely. After the funds are invested for a year, they will start paying out in 2017 to a senior engineering student who carries a minimum 3.0 GPA and exhibits “outstanding character and leadership.”

Ultimately, as the endowed scholarship grows, McLeod hopes the fund can be expanded to assist underclassmen and, eventually, provide one student a full year’s worth of tuition.

“I don't know if it could happen in the next 10 years, but yes, it would be cool to give someone a full year of tuition,” says McLeod, a furniture design engineer at Newberg-based dental equipment manufacturer A-dec. “I didn’t want to name [the scholarship] after myself, because I want it to be bigger than me. My hope is that other people get on board and want to pitch in. That’s the idea behind the name ‘inertia’ – once in motion it continues in motion. So hopefully this is a little nudge to get something going.”

Allen McLeod

McLeod hopes other recent graduates see the value in giving back – regardless of the amount. Many students don’t fully comprehend all the donors that make their education possible from behind the scenes. “I’ve told a few people about what I’m doing and some say, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I’d ever be able to do that, so I just don't want to think about giving.’ They hear that so-and-so donated land or a building and think they can’t make a difference.

But if you could buy one book for one student every semester for 20 years, that’s still a significant gift. We all remember what it’s like the first day when you have to go buy your books.

“If someone donated $80 or $100 each semester, and could buy someone a book, I think that would be something that could be fulfilling for both the donor and the student who gets a book out of it. Your gift doesn’t need to be a high-dollar amount, and that’s what I’m trying to convey to my friends.”

In addition to his financial contribution, McLeod is returning to his alma mater to assist in the classroom as an adjunct instructor in the College of Engineering. “I learned a lot here and want to pass on some of that knowledge. The personal connection you get at George Fox really prepares you for the workplace. Professors give you a lot of attention and understand what your goals are and take the time to get you there.”

Based on his gift, McLeod was invited to George Fox’s Terrace Club this year, giving him a bird’s-eye view of home football games. He is also a member of the President’s Council, which includes invites to special events like this year’s Christmas Concert Madrigal Dinner. But young alumni – those who have graduated from a traditional George Fox undergraduate program within the past 10 years – don’t have to start a scholarship to join the President’s Council, they will be invited with an annual gift of just $300 or more.  

“I had no idea those [benefits] were part of the deal,” he laughs. “That wasn’t the motivation behind giving. I just wanted to do something for the students, because I know my life was changed because of others’ generosity. I guess you could say it’s a pay-it-forward kind of deal.”

Inertia in action.

To give toward engineering equipment in the new Engineering Innovation Center, please contact Robby Larson at rlarson@georgefox.edu or 503-554-2130 or visit our MobileCause website.

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