Alumnus invests in the future of engineering students through scholarship

Written by Ruth Wendlandt on |
Bob Bates

“The older you get the more you appreciate the opportunities you had at the university because you begin to see how fortunate you are to have attended UW-Platteville,” said Robert Bates ’70. Bates credits his educational experience at Wisconsin State University-Platteville in helping him create his civil engineering firm, Bates Engineering Inc., located in Denver, Colorado. Now, he’s making a long-term commitment to his alma mater through the endowed Bates Engineering Inc. scholarship.

“It’s important to pay it back and support UW-Platteville so the institution can continue to provide outstanding opportunities to learn and develop leaderships skills in engineering and civic areas,” Bates said. “It’s important to serve by being an example and lead so others can achieve success.”

The scholarship is targeted to students pursuing a civil engineering degree, enrolled as an upperclassman, involved in extracurricular activities on campus, and demonstrated financial needs.

“Engineers are sought after to become leaders due to their education and decision-making skills,” Bates said. “UW-Platteville plays a critical role in providing the education to develop those leadership skills.”

As Bates invests in in the leadership of future engineers, he also wants to acknowledge his mentors through the scholarship. “Professors gave me the foundation for my interest and success in design engineering. They taught me a way of learning to be able to solve problems that weren’t in the text book,” he explained. “I remember teachers not only taught the class, but you had their personal experience to draw on.”

In 1993, UW-Platteville recognized Bates as a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus for Outstanding Achievement in Community Leadership and Engineering. “I was very appreciative and honored,” he said. “I felt the award also recognized those professors and mentors who taught and served as examples to me.”

Bates calls Colorado home, but he tries to get back to Wisconsin once a year to meet with fellow Pioneers to reminisce about their college days. He recalls several memories including football games at Hill Field, Homecoming parades on Main Street, Thursday night dances in the student union, and Steve’s Pizza on a Saturday night. He also remembers one particular engineering course.

“Professor Dick Adams’ two-hour statics class tests that no one left early. He would schedule the regular class exams during the week at night and gave us two hours to work on them. It made finals seem like a breeze,” Bates said.

Bates continues to embark on his 50-year career and has a message to share. “I want to say thank you to UW-Platteville and hope the scholarship will make a difference in a future engineer’s life,” he said.