Gift to BU College of Engineering Aims to Attract Top Students, Fund Undergraduate Summer Research

in BME News
February 16th, 2010

Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen

Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen

A major gift to the Boston University College of Engineering will ensure that top students will have access to transformative summer research experiences for many years to come under the new Kenneth R. Lutchen Distinguished Fellowship Program.

The ongoing program, founded by an anonymous alumnus of the College’s Biomedical Engineering program, will be funded by annual $100,000 donations that will support up to 10 undergraduate research projects each summer. The $100,000 gift will be available every year and represents the largest commitment by an alumnus in the history of the BU College of Engineering.

The donor named the fellowship program in honor of Lutchen, his former professor who has been the College’s dean since 2006.

“I am extremely appreciative of the guidance and mentorship that I received from Dr. Lutchen while I was a student at Boston University and it is my honor to be able to establish the Kenneth R. Lutchen Distinguished Fellowship Program that has the opportunity to benefit future generations of engineering students,” the donor said.

The first Lutchen Fellowships will be offered to a combination of top applicants to the College of Engineering Class of 2014 and to a few rising juniors and seniors. Each fellow must identify a research project working with an engineering faculty mentor, and maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Entering freshman who win a $10,000 fellowship can use it during the summer after their sophomore or junior year. The program is open to all engineering undergraduates, regardless of major.

“Having a lasting impact on a student’s life is a teacher’s greatest reward, and I am honored and humbled by this gift,” Lutchen said. “This fellowship program will ensure the Boston University College of Engineering can offer our students these wonderful opportunities to enrich their engineering education and achieve levels of excellence they might not have thought possible.”

As a junior faculty member in 1985, Lutchen was instrumental in establishing the Biomedical Engineering Student Design Program, a required program where seniors, guided by a faculty member, take on real-world engineering problems in a year-long research project. He created the program’s anchor course on how to approach a major project, how to communicate all facets of the project, and how to professionally present the project at the department’s Annual Senior Project Conference, which he also created. The conference attracts nearly 200 people per year, including 100 from outside Boston University. Lutchen ran the Biomedical Engineering Senior Project program for 23 years, and the Conference will mark its 25th anniversary on April 30, 2010. The program was subsequently expanded to all engineering seniors in every department as a graduation requirement. Lutchen later served as chairman of the Biomedical Engineering Department before becoming the College’s dean.