a group of people posing with a check
Gathered outside the College of Engineering Building at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) to mark the start of the $3.1 million Andrew and Betty Ventre Memorial Fellowship Fund are, from left to right, UAH President Dr. Charles Karr; Curran Hyde (B.S. 2020); Dr. David Hyde (B.S., M.S., Ph.D. from UAH); Synovus Senior Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager Carol Collinsworth, who represented the Ventre family; Dr. Shankar Mahalingam, dean, College of Engineering, and Dr. Michael Anderson, associate dean for graduate education and research, College of Engineering. David Hyde is a nephew of the Ventres, and Curran is his son.
Michael Mercier | UAH

A $3.1 million gift from an alumnus of The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) College of Engineering will enable the college to attract even more of the best engineering students from around the world and across town through the endowed Andrew and Betty Ventre Memorial Fellowship Fund.

This fund will provide a full graduate scholarship to its recipients as well as a graduate stipend assistance, health insurance and other related costs and benefits.

Dr. Andrew James Ventre received his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering in 1971 and 1976, respectively, from UAH, a part of the University of Alabama System. He also served as a guest lecturer in the UAH engineering department.

“We are extremely grateful to the Ventre family for their generous gift that makes it possible for us to provide financial support to outstanding graduate students pursuing Ph.D. degrees in the College of Engineering at UAH,” says Dr. Shankar Mahalingam, dean, College of Engineering. “The Andrew and Betty Ventre Memorial Fellowship will enable the college to graduate additional Ph.D. students and help boost our national and international ranking in research.”

Andrew Ventre, a native of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from New York University in 1964. He married his wife, Betty Carolyn Hyde, in 1965.

“Andrew was drawn to engineering based on inherited engineering and mechanical talents from our mother and father and their families,” says his brother, Louis Ventre Jr., who graduated from the Newark College of Engineering before becoming a patent attorney. He recalls that they often saw their mechanically inclined father, Louis Ventre Sr., rebuilding motors.

“My parents instilled in each of us the love of education,” says their sister, Nina Ventre Robinson. She didn’t follow her brothers’ engineering interests, instead earning R.N., B.S. and M.B.A. degrees. “I am so proud that Andrew’s endowment is able to assist young people to attend The University of Alabama in Huntsville.”

Andrew Ventre enjoyed a long career in the aerospace and defense industry, including employment at Brown Engineering, CSC and Boeing in Huntsville. He worked on the manned space program and later numerous defense programs.

After founding his own engineering consulting company, Computrol, Andrew Ventre provided expert engineering analysis for several defense programs until his death in 2020. Betty Ventre passed away in 2021.

“Andrew really thought a lot of UAH and was a huge alumni member. He supported UAH every chance he could,” recalls Dr. David W. Hyde, a nephew of the Ventres. “They lived in the same house they’d lived in since the ’60s. He didn’t waste his money. He was glad to give it to UAH.”

Ventre’s drive and intelligence made a strong impression on Hyde.

“It seemed like every time I talked to him, he was working on something that was very important,” Hyde says. “He probably was the smartest person I ever met.”

Ventre influenced Hyde to become an engineer and to attend UAH. Hyde holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and master’s and doctoral degrees in computer engineering, all from UAH.

“Then I influenced my son, Curran,” Hyde says. “I told him he could go anywhere he wanted, but he said, ‘Why would I go anywhere else? UAH has a great engineering program, and all the jobs are in Huntsville.’”

Curran Hyde received his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from UAH in 2020.

Andrew Ventre’s influence in the engineering field went far beyond family ties, as Hyde realized one day while talking to a senior engineer who was leading the development of complex math models for ultrawideband radio systems.

“I asked him how he learned some of the material that he was using. He said, ‘I had a really good mentor, Andrew Ventre.’ He didn’t even know that I knew Andrew at all. That was really impressive to me.”

Along with the endowed fund, UAH will use $130,000 from the initial gift to establish a non-endowed fund, also known as the Andrew and Betty Ventre Memorial Fellowship Fund. This will allow the college to award one or more fellowships before the fully endowed fund is invested in the Pooled Endowment Fund for an initial consecutive period of 12 months.

Dr. Michael Anderson, associate dean for graduate education and research, College of Engineering, will chair the committee to select the Ventre Fellowship recipients.

“The Andrew and Betty Ventre Memorial Fellowship is an important recruiting tool to attract the best students to UAH,” Anderson says. “The award allows UAH to attract students who represent the next generation of leading researchers to our campus to work on and solve problems that will have a wide impact on the future. By bringing the best possible students to UAH, we can ensure that our school continues to compete at the national level in graduate engineering education.”

Ventre Fellowship recipients must demonstrate financial need. Other requirements include a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.4 or a minimum graduate GPA of 3.5 as well as completion of all undergraduate degree requirements. Along with a demonstrated commitment to pursue a Ph.D. degree in engineering, recipients must submit a letter from a Ph.D. advisor who is a faculty member in one of the five UAH College of Engineering academic departments and a support letter from a department chair.



Kristina Hendrix

Elizabeth Gibisch