Engineering alum 'returns favor' with gift to architectural engineering program


By Tessa M. Pick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Inspired by a motivational quote by Jonas Salk, developer of the first successful polio vaccine, Steve Heinz shaped his professional goals around one important question, “Am I being a good ancestor?” It was this question that motivated him to give back to the source of his career’s success, his alma mater, the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering.

Heinz, chief executive officer and founder of EnergyCAP, who earned his master of science in architectural engineering from Penn State in 1980, is endowing the Good Stewardship Scholarship in Architectural Engineering with a $200,000 commitment.

“My professional mission and passion are to be a good ancestor through good stewardship of environmental resources,” Heinz said. “The Department of Architectural Engineering at Penn State played a big role in launching that mission.”

This scholarship will support full-time fourth- or fifth-year undergraduate students who are majoring in architectural engineering with a mechanical systems option in the Department of Architectural Engineering, and who are engaged in research at the University.

“Steve Heinz is an exemplary success story of the Penn State architectural engineering master’s-level education,” said Sez Atamturktur Russcher, Harry and Arlene Schell Professor and head of the Department of Architectural Engineering. “EnergyCAP has been advancing the state-of-the-art in building energy management and enabling reductions in energy consumption. Obtaining advanced degrees in architectural engineering leads to scientific, technical and practical advancements in building performance across the globe. We are very grateful for Steve’s generous gift that will help numerous students reach these same levels of success.”

Heinz earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the United States Air Force Academy in 1976. He then worked as a facilities engineer and energy manager on a military base. During his time there, he said, he saw a lack of innovation in the field.

“Tracking and analyzing energy consumption using the tools available at the time was a constant challenge,” Heinz said.

When he came to Penn State for the Air Force-sponsored master’s program in architectural engineering, Heinz said he realized it was an opportunity to advance not only his education, but also his career.

“During my master’s degree stint at Penn State, the Department of Architectural Engineering had the foresight to purchase a personal computer, or more appropriately a ‘microcomputer,’ as they were called at the time,” Heinz said. “Matching need with opportunity, I took the only programming class available in architectural engineering and then launched a 40-year quest to develop and market energy management software.”

Heinz credits Penn State for providing him with the technology, education and mentoring professors that ultimately helped launch his business, EnergyCAP.

“I can trace the business evolution directly back to Penn State,” Heinz said. “I feel not only the obligation to ‘return the favor,’ but also the opportunity to give future students at least a bit of inspiration and opportunity to launch their own careers, businesses and adventures.”

With his gift to the college, Heinz said he hopes to pass on the motivation and determination to give back to institutes and resources that have a positive impact on society.

“My hope is that future students who have a spark of desire to serve the greater good through good stewardship of resources will be assisted and inspired by the scholarship to pursue their unique life calling in impactful ways,” Heinz said.

This gift will advance ”A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit


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Steve Heinz, Penn State architectural engineering alumnus and chief executive officer and founder of EnergyCAP, is endowing the Good Stewardship Scholarship in Architectural Engineering with a $200,000 commitment. IMAGE: PROVIDED BY STEVE HEINZ