Reg Mitchell, SEAS BS ’65, MS ’67 remembers the moment that his lifelong fascination with trains began. He was 3 years old, standing on a platform at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station with his father. It was the first time he saw a steam locomotive up close and personal. “I was just drawn to it,” Mitchell says.
Mitchell nurtured that fascination with machines throughout his life, from a hobby, to his studies at GW, to an esteemed 42-year aerospace career at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Now, he hopes to pass it on to others through The Reginald S. Mitchell Endowed Scholarship in Engineering.
The bequest intention, currently valued at $500,000, will one day provide a need-and-merit-based endowed scholarship for an undergraduate student in the School of Engineering and Applied Science who has a demonstrated interest in pursuing a career in the railroad or air transport industry.
Scholarships hold a personal meaning for Mitchell; he came to GW after receiving one of four engineering scholarships available nationwide. Without it, Mitchell’s family would not have been able to afford to send him.
“That scholarship catapulted me into the professional world of engineering,” Mitchell says. “It certainly helped get me to where I am today.”
Mitchell’s new fund has been established through a bequest gift, and the endowment will allow it to live on in perpetuity. Mitchell hopes that new generations of students will be able to explore their passions and pursue unique paths in the realm of railroading or commercial aviation.
“Some of us don’t know when we get out of college what we want to do — some of us know when we’re six years old,” Mitchell says. “You know a true fan when you see one.”
Like his enthusiasm for the railroad business and rail travel, Mitchell’s commitment to GW runs deep. A loyal SEAS supporter for more than 40 years, he has invested in other scholarships, dean’s priorities, and the Science and Engineering Hall, where he named an office for his professor and master’s thesis advisor, Dr. Robert Dedrick.
But no matter the investment, Mitchell’s motivation to give has remained the same, going back to the day he first arrived on campus.
“GW was there for me,” he says, “and I want to be there for future students.”
With the endowed scholarship in place, Mitchell’s legacy will continue to touch the lives of countless students — and transportation enthusiasts — for years to come.