MU College of Engineering announces gift of nearly $3 million to support student fellowship and faculty

Dec. 16, 2020
Contact: Eric Stann, 573-882-3346,  

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The University of Missouri announced today a $2.85 million estate gift from Mizzou alumna Sharon L. Langenbeck to the College of Engineering. The gift will create both an endowed chair and endowed student fellowship in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

“This gift celebrates the future of Mizzou’s academic excellence, and we’re grateful to Sharon Langenbeck for her generosity,” University of Missouri President Mun Choi said. “Our students and faculty are helping solve the world’s toughest problems. With her gift, future generations will be able to follow in Sharon’s footsteps.”

Langenbeck grew up in the greater St. Louis area and completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Mizzou. In 1979, she became the first woman to graduate from the College of Engineering with a doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering. She spent her entire career in the aerospace industry, including 17 years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she retired in 2008. In July 2020, she became the president of Zonta International, an international service organization with members in 63 countries working together to improve the lives of women and girls.

“I was an Amelia Earhart fellow at Mizzou, which is a fellowship program through Zonta International for women pursuing doctorates in aerospace engineering or space sciences,” Langenbeck said. “That fellowship helped launch my career in aerospace engineering, and I am fortunate to have spent my entire career in the industry. I want Mizzou to continue fostering opportunities for all students, especially young women, to launch their mechanical and aerospace careers through a Mizzou education.”

The gift will establish a new faculty position, the Sharon L. Langenbeck, Ph.D. Endowed Chair in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, as well as the Sharon L. Langenbeck, Ph.D. Endowed Fellowship in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

“We’re grateful to Mizzou alumna Sharon Langenbeck for her generous gift to the College of Engineering,” Vice Chancellor for Advancement Jackie Lewis said. “This contribution will continue to support the foundation for student and faculty success at Mizzou.”

Current graduate student Elizabeth Bellott, who is pursuing a doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering, is the first Langenbeck fellow. She hopes to one day work in the industry or government on problems and systems related to sustainability and renewable energy and likes how research in mechanical and aerospace engineering spans multiple fields and industries.

“Our alumni from Mizzou Engineering are visionaries,” said Noah Manring, interim dean of the College of Engineering. “As more employers are hiring college graduates with science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees, we are grateful for Dr. Langenbeck’s support to help open the door for future generations to pursue their dreams at Mizzou of becoming an engineer.”

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