SME Education Foundation News | Endowed Scholarship Honors the Legacy of Donald N. Smith | The Importance of Endowed Scholarships | Legacy Gifts Benefit the Foundation | SME Education Foundation Launches New Charitable Gift Planning Website

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Endowed Scholarship Honors the Legacy of Donald N. Smith

Rickard Sarns and the family of Donald N. Smith have established an endowed scholarship fund with the SME Education Foundation in Smith’s honor. Smith, who died in 2014, was director of the Industrial Development Division at the University of Michigan's Institute of Science and Technology. The scholarship was established to acknowledge his long relationship with SME (formally the Society of Manufacturing Engineers) and manufacturing academia.

Smith was the primary force behind the CAR Management Briefing Seminars held annually in Traverse City, Michigan. The seminars started in 1965 and are a platform for auto industry insiders to discuss critical issues facing automobile manufacturing. In 1988, he was awarded the SME Joseph A. Siegel Service Award for his significant and unique contributions to SME.

To contribute to the Donald N. Smith Endowed Scholarship, please contact Stan Simek, senior fund development officer for the SME Education Foundation, at 313–425–3222.




The Importance of Endowed Scholarships

Scholarships have played an integral role in SME Education Foundation’s philanthropic efforts for decades. Generous support from our donors has increased and their contributions have helped students offset the rising cost of higher education. In 2016, 242 students were awarded $588,000 in undergraduate and graduate scholarships. Currently, the Foundation has 34 endowed scholarship funds..

One of the Foundation’s past scholarship recipients, who is well on her way to making a significant impact in the manufacturing sector is Anna Hiszpanski. As the daughter of Polish immigrants, Hiszpanski grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Valencia. She became interested in engineering during high school and joined the robotics team her freshman year. Hiszpanski received the SME Education Foundation Family Scholarship in 2005, and graduated in 2009 from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.

After Caltech, Hiszpanski was admitted into the PhD program in Chemical Engineering at Princeton University. She defended her thesis and graduated with her PhD in May 2015. After receiving her doctorate, Hiszpanski returned to California and now works at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Hiszpanski is one of the Foundation’s many success stories. We are proud to support students like Hiszpanski who are pursuing graduate level education, so they can focus on their studies and graduate without insurmountable debt. Especially those students like Hiszpanski who planned careers that require many years of education beyond the undergraduate level.

Endowed scholarships are an important part of the Foundation’s ability to continue awarding funding to students, because these are gifts in perpetuity.




Legacy Gifts Benefit the Foundation and Our Next Generation of Manufacturers

In 2016, the SME Education Foundation was notified that it is the beneficiary of two estate gifts. One from the estate of Walter Panse and the second from Gene B. Stuessy, PhD.

Walter Panse joined SME in 1949 and made his first gift in 1974. He was the founder of Plymouth Gage and Tool Company in Plymouth, Michigan. He served as the company’s president until 1964 when he sold the company to Federal Mogul.

Gene B. Stuessy, PhD was a retired U.S. Air Force employee residing in College Station, Texas. He was a longtime SME donor, dating back to the 1980s.

A legacy gift is a planned future donation to a charity, given through a will or other form of designation. It is a decision that each person makes in their own financial planning process, considering their charitable wishes and values.

By making bequests and other "legacy gifts," you can continue to help the Foundation make an important impact on manufacturing for future generations.

To learn more about the benefits of a legacy gift, visit




SME Education Foundation Launches New Charitable Gift Planning Website

The SME Education Foundation recently launched a new website for charitable gift planning. The website allows visitors to explore various estate and legacy planned giving options through user-friendly tools.

"Planned giving” is the act of making a commitment to give a charitable organization a major gift at death, as part of the donor’s overall financial and estate planning.

"The Foundation has a rich history of support from estate gifts," says Stan Simek, SME Education Foundation senior fund development officer. "We are pleased to launch our website to make it a resource for individuals to plan their charitable gifts to the Foundation." The new site includes downloadable e–brochures on such topics as wills, bequests, gifts of retirement plans, life insurance, appreciated securities and real-estate.

Donors who have signed a letter of commitment are enrolled in the E. Wayne and Beulah S. Kay Legacy Society.

You can view the new website at




E. Wayne and Beulah S. Kay Legacy Society to Host an Estate Planning-Charitable Giving Webinar

When you support the SME Education Foundation with a planned gift, you will be making a difference for years to come. Our Legacy Society can combine your philanthropic plans and estate planning goals to create positive change in the Foundation.

An estate planning expert will reveal effective and creative ways to ensure the well–being of yourself and your family, while considering the SME Education Foundation in your plans.

The seminar will be held in late April 2017.




Past scholarship recipient credits SME Education Foundation for kick starting his manufacturing career

"The SME Education Foundation is one of the biggest reasons I got involved in manufacturing and gave me the confidence to know this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Matt Hilgendorf, CMfgE, EIT, is a young professional who has benefited greatly from his SME membership and the financial support of the SME Education Foundation.

Now a supplier development and quality manager at Black Horse LLC, Hilgendorf, 34, has a long history of involvement with SME, since joining the organization in college. He received several scholarships from the Foundation, including the SME Education Foundation’s Directors Scholarship in 2005, which aided in his education.

But, Hilgendorf said it wasn’t a straight path to his career in manufacturing.

"I’ve always been a hands-on learner, but unfortunately didn’t have the experience of learning about the professional side of manufacturing and engineering when I was young,” he said. "My father was an engineer, but our brains worked quite differently. I’m mechanically inclined and he wasn’t. Because of that, I wasn’t exposed to engineering early on."

Instead, Hilgendorf expected to work in the automotive technology field. His family owned an auto repair shop and he worked at a local car dealership as part of a "high school-to-work” program. He didn’t plan on pursuing a college degree until the dealership’s service manager encouraged him to apply for an engineering program.

Fortunately, Hilgendorf heeded the manager’s advice and enrolled in the mechanical engineering student co-op program at Kettering University. It was there where he learned about the manufacturing industry and realized he could combine his mechanical skills with practical engineering concepts. In 2002, Hilgendorf’s interest in manufacturing grew, and he became an SME student member, which introduced him to the SME Education Foundation and scholarship opportunities. After his first year at Kettering, Hilgendorf added a second major and subsequently completed his bachelor’s degrees in manufacturing and mechanical engineering.

"The support I received from the SME Education Foundation is a significant contributor to where I am in manufacturing today," Hilgendorf said. "Had I been exposed earlier to the industry, my mindset and ambitions about my career choice would have been completely different."

"The professionals who make up the manufacturing industry are so welcoming, and they sincerely want young people to pursue this career, and succeed. That is a lesson that I learned from SME and the Education Foundation."

Since joining SME, Hilgendorf has served on the Member Council, been an SME international director and was a liaison to the Education Foundation’s Board of Directors. He’s currently an SME endowment member – a designation awarded to an individual member who makes a financial donation to the SME Endowment Fund – and an active member of the SME Education Foundation Scholarship Review Committee.




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