Engineering alumnus creates scholarship for EECS undergraduate students


By Sarah Small

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State electrical engineering alumnus Don Kellmel grew up in Luzerne County as part of a coal mining family. He knew that if he wanted to go to college, he would need to pay for it himself, which he did through summer and part-time jobs. Now, he wants to help ease the financial burden of similarly situated students.

Through his estate, Kellmel is establishing the Dr. Donald and Eileen Kellmel Scholarship, which will support full-time undergraduate students majoring in electrical engineering or computer science and engineering who are from Luzerne County.

“I hope this scholarship will support a talented student from the area where I grew up,” Kellmel said. “I hope this financial help will allow them to concentrate fully on their studies.”

Kellmel received his bachelor of science degree in 1971, his master of science degree in 1973 and his doctorate in 1978, all in electrical engineering from Penn State. He worked several jobs while in school.

“I mostly enjoyed my summer and part-time work,” Kellmel said. “In particular, I enjoyed working as a research and teaching assistant at Penn State.”

His wife, Eileen, also grew up in Luzerne County and attended Newport Township High School, two years ahead of Don. They married in 1970. After Kellmel received his degrees, he and Eileen moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Eileen died in 2014, and Kellmel still lives in the house they bought together in 1977.

Kellmel now works as a senior scientist specializing in artificial intelligence and machine learning at Applied Signals Intelligence Inc. He began his career as a principal scientist at Locus Inc. before moving to Avenue Technologies Inc., which was sold to several companies and eventually became Perspecta. His work began with a focus on satellite research but expanded to include research and development for a diverse set of engineering technologies.

According to Kellmel, the purpose of this scholarship is to help students pursue their dream of a higher education in electrical engineering or computer science and engineering, as he was able to do with his Penn State education.

“This generous gift will support scholarships that make our programs more accessible to students and help us fulfill our land grant mission,” said Tom La Porta, Evan Pugh Professor, William E. Leonhard Endowed Chair and director of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Gifts to scholarships 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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