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Tech lab opens in memory of former student

Published: Monday, September 17, 2012

Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 01:09

Standing in front of a small crowd of family, friends and colleagues, Thomas Don Savage, father of Scott Savage, teared up as he thanked the many people who made the opening of the Scott Savage ’05 Real Time Systems Laboratory possible.

The lab took two years to build and after the ribbon cutting ceremony Friday afternoon, the lab was made available for several upper level classes and senior design projects in the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering.

Scott Savage, former photo editor for The Battalion, graduated with Cum Laude Honors from Texas A&M in 2005 with a bachelor of science in computer engineering. He went on to work for National Instruments in Austin where he worked his way up in the company over the next five years. He had recently been promoted to semiconductor test segment manager while leading an international marketing effort with numerous travels around the world. Savage died on September 22, 2010.

“He was a very high-energy, passionate guy,” said Charles Schroeder, the director of marketing for test at National Instruments. “It hit all of us really hard when he passed away.”

Michael Denton, who graduated in 2005 with a degree in electrical engineering, met Savage during his freshman year of college and the two of them became very close friends.

“Scott was the most energetic and in-your-face person I’d ever met,” Denton said. “He expected the world of the people he spent time with, but he would always give that much and more in return. We were friends freshman year and best friends by sophomore year. He was the reason I decided to work for NI.”

The building of the new laboratory was the idea of employees of National Instruments. It was put in motion when James Truchard, the CEO of National Instruments and former student of the University of Texas at Austin, donated over $100,000 to Texas A&M upon the passing of Savage in order to help fund the building of the Real Time Laboratory. Some of the cost was also picked up by differential tuition funds.

“The $100,000 was a great start, but it wasn’t nearly enough,” Schroeder said. “The rest of the cost was picked up by employees of NI and Aggies that knew Scott.”

Schroeder said the laboratory will help remind students why they chose to study engineering. It will give them a chance to get some hands-on experience with real world situations.

“Engineers don’t want to just do math,” Schroeder said. “They want to build things.”

Schroeder said that Savage, National Instruments and the University believed engineering had strayed away from hands-on learning.

Michael Kelley, who recently interned for National Instruments, is an electrical engineering graduate student at Texas A&M. Using his knowledge from both school and his experience as an intern, he will be the head-teaching assistant for the new laboratory.

“My job is basically to teach the TAs who will then teach the students how to use the equipment,” Kelley said. “It will give students a chance to get a lot of hands-on experience.”

The lab itself will be used to facilitate several courses starting part time this semester and full time next semester. Some of the classes will include wireless communications, signal communications and power electronics.

Several speakers gave high praises to Scott during the ceremony. He was said to have truly represented what an Aggie engineer should be. The speakers said the lab will honor his memory while supporting the future of countless Aggie engineers and that it is a testament to Scott, a testament to National Instruments and a testament to Texas A&M.


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