BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It took him 16 years of studying part time on
nights and weekends while working full time and raising a family to
complete his engineering degree at the University at Buffalo, but
Felix Smist, B.S. '65, of North Tonawanda, N.Y., kept at it. To
honor his father and help students who experience similar
situations, Felix's son James Smist, B.S. '80, and his wife, Mary,
have established the Felix Smist Scholarship at UB with their gift
The Felix Smist Scholarship will pay the tuition, for up to six
years, of a part-time student in the School of Engineering and
James Smist of McLean, Va., is president of Dean & Company,
a management consulting firm that works with CEOs and senior
management on the national and international corporate levels. He
was five years old when he attended his father's graduation from
"My father's example made me realize that education is a
precious thing," James said. He earned a bachelor of science degree
in engineering from UB in 1980. He says that, although his career
developed outside of that field, "The systematic thinking process
and quantitative capabilities that I learned in that program have
had continuous use for me."
"This scholarship offers a unique opportunity to help a
non-traditional student," said Mark Karwan, dean of the School of
Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). "We appreciate James Smist
and his wife honoring Felix in this way, which will help others who
need to work full time while attending school."
For James and Mary Smist, the gift benefits the school and the
students, while "also honoring my father's commitment to education.
This seemed like a great way to accomplish both. We believe the
scholarship will encourage students."
Encouraging students is also something Felix Smist cares deeply
about. "I wouldn't have been able to move up to chief engineer at
Sherwood Selpac of Lockport, where I worked at the time, if I had
not had my degree in engineering from UB." Smist retired 10 years
The first recipient of the Felix Smist Scholarship is Rachel
Marie Styn of Amherst, N.Y., executive assistant/system training
specialist at Healthcare Solutions WNY, LLC, in Cheektowaga. Styn,
the single parent of five-year-old Chloe, attends UB part time,
working on a degree in electrical engineering.
"I've always been drawn to math and science, so engineering was
a natural choice," she said. "My interest in electrical engineering
was aroused originally in middle school and further developed in
high school once I took physics. My particular area of interest is
in cost-efficient and environmentally friendly energy sources."
Styn is grateful for the Smist Scholarship. She says, "It is
inspiring and heart-warming that a person could have so much love
and respect for his father that he would create this scholarship in
his honor. I am honored to be the recipient of the Smist
Scholarship, and I look forward to the time when I can repay his
kindness by providing assistance to a student in similar
The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences offers
bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in all major fields of
engineering: mechanical and aerospace; chemical and biological;
civil, structural and environmental; computer; electrical, and
industrial engineering. Valuing interdisciplinary research, SEAS
promotes connections across disciplines in its research centers,
internship programs and industrial partnerships. Today's students
join the ranks of over 20,000 UB engineering alumni who live in 50
states and 52 countries.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the
State University of New York.