West Virginia University has awarded its first two, of many Ruby Scholar graduate fellowships.
The Ruby Fellowship awards some the of the university's finest graduate students pursuing careers primarily in the science and engineering fields. It's a program university president Jim Clements said is great for the future of the school.
"This is incredible," said Clements. "This is a major gift for us, transformational for graduate education and research here. We have the opportunity to introduce our two first Ruby fellows, and as you can see they are unbelievably impressive. These are brilliant young guys who are going to make a difference in the world."
Derrick Banerjee, and Thomas Devine are the first students to receive the award. The fellowship will give the two doctoral students graduate and tuition fee waivers, a $30,000 stipend, and $2,000 for professional development travel.
"It's absolutely amazing," said Banerjee. "It more or less justifies all the hard work I've put in over the past four to five years as an undergrad and masters student. It means more in terms of my career path and being able to do what I truly want to do."
With a bachelor's and master's degree in Mechanical Engineering, Banerjee's calling is teaching.
The other recipient, Thomas Devine, holds four degrees and passions in computer science and astrophysics.
He said the fellowship enables him to help tackle the issues the astrophysics industry has with transferring and analyzing large amounts of data.
"The way the fellowship helps me is it gives me the freedom to pursuit what I want to research, and it just so happens that what I want to research are pretty big, important problems that are happening all over the world right now," said Devine.
The university sees the fellowship as a way to help develop the university's talents and as a recruiting tool, one that President Clements said is bound to gain momentum.
"As Steve Farmer said in his golf analogy ‘You have to win the first hole if you're going to win every hole.' We won today because these kids are super, and it's only going to get bigger and better, and I think this is a very prestigious program, and to be awarded a designation of a Ruby Fellows, that's a big deal, and it will become bigger and bigger as the program grows," said Clements.
The fellowship was established after the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust Fund donated $5 million a year ago. WVU matched the contribution making the program's value $10 million.