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Myers' gift helps ME department aim for the top

Myers in Egypt.

ME Emeritus Professor Phillip Myers and wife Jean on a recent trip to Egypt.

A $1 million gift from Professor Emeritus Phillip Myers and his wife, Jean, will help the Department of Mechanical Engineering continue its mission to be one of the top departments of its kind in the United States. The Myers' gift established the Phil and Jean Myers Professorship, which includes two graduate fellowships. The gift also will provide a cash award to the chosen professor, and operating funds for the Myers Automotive Laboratory in the Engineering Centers Building.

A UW-Madison mechanical engineering professor will hold the professorship for five years and select the students who will receive the fellowships. A professor may receive the professorship repeatedly but not successively. Myers hopes the position will help retain the department's outstanding faculty and lure other exceptional faculty to the college.

Mechanical engineering alumnus Fred Mancheski donated $2 million to construct and name the laboratory in Myers' honor. It will provide facilities for engineering students to compete in national student projects, such as this year's FutureTruck Challenge. The Myers' gift will help fund the laboratory's operation.

Myers' research includes engines, heat transfer, air pollution, combustion, thermodynamics and welding. With Professor (Emeritus) Otto Uyehara, Myers founded the internationally recognized Engine Research Center, housed in the Engineering Research Building.

He began teaching in the department in 1942 and retired in 1986, but regularly works in his campus office. "Having been associated with engineering at Wisconsin for 58 years, I have a vested interest in engineering," he says about his gift. "We wanted to support engineering to the extent of our capabilities."

Among their gifts to the college, Myers and his wife have contributed to the Uyehara-Myers Undergraduate Fellowship Fund, the Uyehara-Myers-Borman Fund, the M.M. El-Wakil Scholarship Fund, the Ben G. Elliott Scholarship Fund, and the Rockne Flowers Fund.

Myers says he's enjoyed his engineering work and is happy to give something back to the department that contributed to his rewarding career. "I am grateful to the University of Wisconsin, which provided facilities and, more importantly, an atmosphere where my energies and talents could be developed, utilized and recognized," he says.

A Kansas native, Myers earned a BS in mathematics from McPherson College in 1940. Two years later he received a BS in mechanical engineering from Kansas State College, and began teaching at UW-Madison. While teaching full time, Myers earned MS and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering in 1944 and 1947, respectively. "My engineering education, assisted by continued learning through my research, has enabled me to keep up with the dramatic technological developments that have occurred in the last 58 years," he says.

In addition to numerous national and professional awards, Myers' UW-Madison honors include the Benjamin Smith Reynolds Teaching Award ('64), Ragnar E. Onstad Service to Society Award ('78), WARF Senior Distinguished Research Professor ('84) and Tau Beta Pi Teaching Award ('85).

He emphasizes the significant but often-unrecognized role his wife played in his achievements. "My wife, Jean, contributed in a major way to the most rewarding of my accomplishments: my continued long-term relationships with former students-both U.S. and international-and my family," he says. "It is appropriate and meaningful that her name is on the professorship."

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4/22/2011