Scholarships work.
They bring amazing engineers to ECE Illinois

That’s why our top giving priority for incoming undergraduate students is the Engineering Visionary Scholarship (EVS) Initiative. Now through the end of 2019, The Grainger Foundation will match all donations up to $25 million to our scholarship endowments.

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Meet our students

“A gift goes a long way; it does not just go to a scholarship – it goes to an infinite set of experiences that otherwise would not have been possible.”

Omar Joya

“When I was a little kid, I dreamed to living in a house full of robots that I designed.”

Anthony “TJ” Lambert

“Your generosity has allowed me to continue my education with unbounded excitement, curiosity, and vigor.”

Christina Ernst

“Words cannot truly describe how thankful I am to receive an Engineering Visionary Scholarship.”

Ivan Gallardo

“I would like to be able to pay the favor back someday by helping others in need.”

Kamaleddine Abou-zhar

Mary’s exemplary academic record made her attractive to many top institutions. Ultimately, she accepted admission to ECE ILLINOIS to pursue computer engineering.

Mary Lavoie

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Multiply Your Impact

Gifts to the Engineering Visionary Scholarship have ranged from $1 to $1 million. No matter the size or scope your gift, you will be helping students succeed at ECE ILLINOIS. Through the end of 2019, you can multiply your impact by taking advantage of the Grainger Foundation Matching Challenge. You can give now through our website or you can contact our advancement team to begin a conversation.

Katherine Coles

Electrical Engineering '09

"I knew about the Grainger Matching Challenge and knew I wanted to take advantage of it. What tipped me over the edge was that my employer, Motorola, participated in Giving Tuesday and offered an additional 50 percent matching opportunity. Combining everything tripled what my contribution would have been alone, and that felt so meaningful."

Omar Joya

Omar standing in band regalia

When choosing a college, cost was the largest factor in Omar Joya's decision. Thankfully, an Engineering Visionary Scholarship, combined with other support, allowed him to choose ECE ILLINOIS over competing offers.

"Many competitive programs do not carry the collaborative and supportive environment Engineering at Illinois continually tries to foster. For this reason, I could not be happier to attend this institution." During his freshman year, the caliber and rigor of the coursework was intimidating, but support from faculty, staff, and his peers helped him persevere.

This supportive and collaborative environment is what makes Illinois unique. Omar has been involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers during all four years at Illinois. Through this organization, he has met countless mentors and peers who have helped him pave the way for the rest of his career. One of his favorite undergraduate memories traveling to Beijing and Shanghai over the summer with the Hoeft Technology and Management Program.

Omar was also a member of the Marching Illini. Along with his saxophone, he has traveled with the group Dublin, Ireland, for the St. Patrick's Day Parade and New York City for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Omar is grateful for the incredible support of our alumni and donors. "My entire story as an engineering student would not have been possible without the support of donors. A gift goes a long way; it does not just go to a scholarship – it goes to an infinite set of experiences that otherwise would not have been possible."

For this, he is proud to carry the University's name with him as he strives to make a difference in the world. "I hope that further down the line, I can support future students achieve their goals and dreams, just like someone supported me."

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Anthony "TJ" Lambert

Anthony standing in front of sunny window

Robots have always fascinated Anthony "TJ" Lambert. "When I was a little kid, I dreamed of living in a house full of robots that I designed and built," he said. Now, with a more sophisticated idea of robotics and support from an Engineering Visionary Scholarship, he is pursuing his goals. "I want to build robots that help people, especially people in poverty."

TJ received several competing offers from engineering programs across the country. Growing up in a small town near St. Louis, he wasn't sure if he could succeed on a campus twice the size of his hometown. Nearly half way through his undergraduate career, he's confident he made the right choice.

"Receiving a scholarship helped give me the confidence that I am smart enough to attend one of the best engineering universities in the world."

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Christina Ernst

Christina on a bike in front of flowers

Christina's decision to pursue computer engineering at ECE ILLINOIS was almost entirely based on the generous scholarship she received. Illinois' reputation and top-ranked engineering program was impressive but she wouldn't have been able to afford it without a scholarship. She also likes that Illinois is close to home, has an amazing campus, and ample research opportunities.

Her scholarship allows her to focus on her studies instead of picking up another job to pay for school. When she's not working on homework, Christina enjoys participating in extracurricular activities. She is a member of Eta Kappa Nu, Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Campus Honors Program. She is also in the process of writing a book of STEM-related projects aimed at young girls.

Last summer, she interned at Google on their Security and Privacy Team. She gained first-hand experience in helping make the world's information more secure. At Google, she worked on some of the world's toughest computing challenges. Being able to see her code pushed out into the world reaffirmed her passion for computer engineering.

Christina is sincerely thankful for the enriching opportunity her scholarship has made possible. "Your generosity has allowed me to continue my education with unbounded excitement, curiosity, and vigor."

She continues to thrive at ECE ILLINOIS because of an Engineering Visionary Scholarship made possible by the generous support of donors.

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Ivan Gallardo

Ivan posing against neutral backdrop

As the oldest of six children, Ivan's parents could not afford to help him pay for his education, but they never stopped encouraging him to succeed. He became the first in his family to attend college, first at a community college, then transferring to ECE ILLINOIS.

Although Ivan was proud to transition to Illinois, he also had a sense of uneasiness due to financial uncertainty. "That is why words cannot truly describe how thankful I am to receive an Engineering Visionary Scholarship."

"Paying for my education has been a challenge and the main reason why I attended a community college before transferring to Illinois. You have helped bring me one step closer to achieving my goals by alleviating some of the stress."

Ivan was able to focus on his pursuit of computer engineering. He was named a James Scholar and was active with Illinois Robotics in Space and the Morrill Engineering Program.

Following graduation, he plans to make a difference in the world through tech and inspire others to pursue their dreams.

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Kamaleddine Abou-zhar

Kamaleddine posing in busy city at dusk

Before coming to ECE ILLINOIS, Kamaleddine attended Wilbur Wright College in Chicago. Earning community college credits and earning an Engineering Visionary Scholarship made it possible for him to come to Illinois. Instead of worrying about finances, he can focus on research, including an independent research study with Professor Panumpabi, who is the Resident Power Engineer at the Information Trust Institute at Illinois.

In addition to his coursework and research, Kamaleddine is involved with the Muslim Student Association on campus, and he's a member of the Maghreb Association of North America. He is also a student member of IEEE.

In his free time, Kamaleddine enjoys going to the gym, hanging out with friends, and cooking. He especially enjoys cooking traditional Moroccan dishes.

Following graduation, Kamaleddine plans to pursue a master's degree in power and control. "I am planning to work hard and to continue acquiring the knowledge to succeed in my future career so that I can be of good use to the school, community, and country."

He is honored to receive an Engineering Visionary Scholarship because it helps him achieve his goals of becoming an engineer. "I would like to be able to pay the favor back someday by helping others in need."

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Mary Lavoie

Mary standing in front of Siebel Center on sunny day

Mary's exemplary academic record made her attractive to many top institutions. She was a recipient of the Illinois House of Representatives Certificate of Recognition for perfect score on the ACT. Ultimately, she accepted admission to ECE ILLINOIS to pursue computer engineering.

"I chose the College of Engineering because of its great programs and stellar reputation." Her choice was made possible with the financial support of an Engineering Visionary Scholarship.

At Illinois, she was involved with iRobotics and volunteered at the Midwest Museum of Natural History. She also worked as both a Math Instructor for Mathnasium, the Math Learning Center, and as a Dining Hall Student Worker. She earned many honors during her undergraduate career, including being named as a Chancellor Scholar, James Scholar, National Merit Scholarship Recipient, and a member of the National Honors Society and Tau Beta Pi.

Now working with a Chicago-based software company, she is still committed to making an impact in the field of computer engineering. Because of an Engineering Visionary Scholarship, she was able to develop a strong foundation at ECE ILLINOIS to pursue her goals.

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Contact Us

Heather Vazquez

Senior Director of Advancement
1060 ECE Building
(217) 333-2517
hfv@illinois.edu