Skip to content »

CEF Celebrates the Class of 2019

The Chicago Engineers’ Foundation (CEF) Incentive Award Celebration brought more than 200 guests together on June 13, 2019 at the Union League Club of Chicago.  Students, educators, engineering professionals, alumni and supporters of the Engineers’ Foundation gathered to celebrate the organization’s newest slate of Incentive Award recipients along with CEF’s 50th award anniversary.

The evening began with a special video message from Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (8th District), an engineer and business owner turned legislator.  Erik Cempel, CEF President and award alum, served as the master of ceremonies.  Mr. Cempel congratulated the Class of 2019 and gave special thanks to all of the individuals and companies generously supporting this year’s awards.

A highlight of the celebration was the presentation of CEF’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award.  The Award was established by the CEF Board of Directors to honor past award recipients for their professional achievements and dedication to future engineers.  George A. Smith (Class of 1971) received this year’s award.  Mr. Smith received his CEF scholarship award as a Lindblom High School graduate.  He attended Purdue University, pursing a degree in electrical engineering. While at Purdue, George Smith was one of 6 undergraduate students who established a first-of-its kind professional and mentoring society for minority engineering students.  This group evolved to become the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), with George Smith actively involved in founding the organization, designing the logo, and helping the organization support thousands of students and professionals.  Since its inception NSBE has grown from six founding members to more than 17,000, with over 500 chapters worldwide.  Mr. Smith graciously accepted the Alumni award and during his remarks he recognized all of the NSBE co-founders, including Brian Harris who also attended the celebration.  In addition, George Smith spoke about his own educational pursuits and encouraged all of the students at the event to know that engineering is a team endeavor.

The CEF leadership also presented awards to the top finalists in the first Because of CEF… video competition.  Previous award recipients were encouraged to share videos describing how their CEF involvement has impacted their engineering career goals.  Seven finalist videos premiered at the Award Celebration.

The leadership of the Chicago Engineers’ Foundation extends congratulations to the Class of 2019, and is grateful for generous support of this year’s awards to 32 high school graduates and 62 college students.  Special thanks to the award sponsors and event sponsors HNTB, Focus Group Holdings, CBM Meetings +, Golden Square and University of Illinois at Chicago.

This year’s Incentive Awards mark the 50th anniversary of the scholarship program.  In 1969, the Chicago Engineers’ Club Foundation presented $100 awards to 10 Chicago high school graduates.  Over the years the program has grown to provide up to 100 awards each year to engineering students from neighborhoods across Chicago and offers award recipients the opportunity to apply for up to $5,000 in awards over 4 years of undergraduate study.  The Class of 2019 will attend university engineering programs locally and across the country, are almost equally male and female, and almost forty percent are the first in their family to attend college.