Penn State alumni establish gift to support Engineering Ambassadors

November 14, 2022

By Mariah Chuprinski

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State alumni David and JoEllen Sallack doubled down on their support of Penn State with a $250,000 gift to establish the David and JoEllen Sallack Engineering Ambassadors Program Fund in the College of Engineering.

Engineering Ambassadors brings current Penn State engineering students to K-12 classrooms with students from historically underrepresented groups to encourage interest in careers in science and technology through presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities. The program also fosters communications and leadership skills in undergraduates through professional development and training opportunities.

“My wife and I are extremely proud and excited to be able to provide financial support to the Engineering Ambassadors program,” David said. “We believe that it is imperative for both the Commonwealth and the nation that we have a large and diverse cadre of engineers and technically-trained individuals to lead us into the future.”

David graduated from Penn State in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in community development and again in 1976 with a master’s degree in public administration. JoEllen received a bachelor’s degree in individual and family studies from Penn State in 1975. David spent his career in education and public finance, while JoEllen served as a reading and learning support teacher. 

In 2019, the Sallacks established the John A. and Fay Sallack Memorial Scholarship, in memory of David’s late father, John Sallack who graduated from Penn State with a degree in chemical engineering in 1953, and older sister, Fay Sallack, who earned a Penn State degree in architecture in 1974. The scholarship benefits Penn State students from rural areas studying science, technology, engineering, math or architecture.

“Through our scholarship endowment we have provided direct financial assistance to students from underserved areas of Pennsylvania to pursue an education in science and technology,” David said. “We believe the Engineering Ambassadors program is complementary to our scholarship funding and strikes us as a wonderful way to both reach out to prospective engineers and to showcase the talented and impressive students already enrolled in Penn State’s engineering programs. It is our hope that, through the ambassadors program, a whole new diverse generation of students will be exposed to engineering in its various forms and provided with a vision for their future as engineers.”

Lori Miraldi, director of the Engineering Ambassadors Program, highlighted how the program will benefit from the Sallacks’ gift.

"With the support of the Sallacks, Engineering Ambassadors will be able to introduce more K-12 students to the magic of engineering without financially burdening their families or schools,” Miraldi said. “We look forward to bringing students from rural Pennsylvania together to share our passion of engineering."

The Sallacks live in Harrisburg and have a grown son, Nick, and daughter, Emily, who are both Penn State alumni.

With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016 to 2022, philanthropy is helping to sustain the University’s mission of education, research and service to communities across the commonwealth and around the globe. Scholarships enable Penn State to open doors and welcome students from every background, support for transformative experiences allows students and faculty to fulfill their vast potential for leadership, and gifts toward discovery and excellence help serve and impact the world. To learn more about the impact of giving and the continuing need for support, please visit


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