With over 44 million borrowers nationwide, the collective student loan debt in the U.S. has reached the $1.5 trillion mark. Many college students take on part-time or full-time jobs in order to offset the financial burden, eating up time that could have been used studying. Increasingly, talented students from backgrounds of limited means find their date of graduation delayed in order to keep up with daily expenses on top of tuition, further slowing their pace up the ladder into their early careers. As student loan debt continues to rise, so does the gap between students with varying financial means.

In 1960, Mini-Circuits founder, Harvey Kaylie, graduated from the City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering. In 2012, to give back to his alma mater, the Kaylie family founded the Mini-Circuits Honors Scholars Program in Engineering. The scholarship gives gifted students of financial need the opportunity to attend the City College of New York with fully funded tuition. Supporting the engineering community and cultivating the next generation of engineers has been at the forefront of the Kaylie family’s philanthropic initiative, working hand in hand with the college’s dedication to maintaining a diverse student body. Scholarship recipients have been chosen annually from 2012-2016 in cohorts of five. Each student receives an annual scholarship for the cost of tuition throughout their five-year undergraduate education.

The 30 scholarship winners to date were selected based on their outstanding potential, work ethic, academic performance and financial need. The program allows students to focus on their studies without worrying about the cost of their tuition or debt and additionally provides on-campus resources and support. In their sophomore years, Mini-Circuits Honors Scholars participate in research and design projects, assist in publishing papers under the supervision of faculty advisers, and are either actively involved in their respective professional engineering societies. Some are employed as part-time engineering apprentices. Mini-Circuits successfully recruited applications manager, Jeremy Cortez, after his completion of the Mini-Circuits Honors Scholar Program.

In the early 2000s, the number of engineering graduates stagnated while employer demand was left unmet. This talent gap has been especially acute in the RF engineering field, where demand is always high, but the talent pool is often limited. From 2007-2014, the number of engineering graduates in the U.S. increased by 33 percent and has grown steadily since. The growing interest in engineering combined with the charitable contributions of groups such as the Kaylie family have helped make this growth sustainable.

The 2014 cohort of Mini-Circuits Honors Scholars graduated this past May. In an annual report provided by CCNY, these engineers outlined their academic and professional accomplishments, their future plans and ventures, and their gratitude for the opportunity to be Mini-Circuits Honors Scholars. Scholarship recipient Danny Munoz shared his journey as a first-generation college student from Ecuador. A few of his notable accomplishments over the course of his academic career included working at the college’s Smart Grid Laboratory, interning at the NASA Goddard Flight Center, and working on the MiTEE-1 satellite during his internship with the University of Michigan. His ultimate goal is to collaborate with scientists and engineers to develop and innovate the future of aerospace. In September, he will begin his position as electrical engineer for Northrop Grumman’s Space Division. Another scholarship recipient, Andres Hinkey, noted that he won second place in the Kaylie Hardware track of the Zahn competition with his baseball training tech startup. He also worked on product design as an intern at Rifton Equipment, and was part of a team of students that designed a compact tunneling robot for General Dynamics.

Harvey Kaylie remarked in 2012 on the creation of the scholarship, “I feel an obligation to CCNY. The opportunity it offered me was exceptional, and the level of education was superb. It is very important for gifted students to be able to attend CCNY even if they do not have the means.” This message has echoed throughout the college’s halls and allowed 30 exceptional minds to flourish. The Kaylie family’s continued support enables the cultivation of world class leaders in the sciences. The scholarship’s impact will be felt for years to come within the community.