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Monday, January 6, 2014

Full Scholarships Available to Students Majoring in the Field of Engineering

     High school students looking for a career in engineering are encouraged to apply for the Ross Wagner Scholarship, which provides a full-ride scholarship to one of the top 30 engineering schools in the United States and Canada. 

An unlimited number of scholarships are available through the fund established by Gemini Incorporated, one of the world's leading manufacturers of dimensional letters, logos and plaques for the sign, identification and recognition industries.  The fund was created in honor of Ross Wagner, the Chairman of the company's Board of Directors from 1988-1992.  The Ross Wagner Scholarships provide full-ride scholarships for students majoring in civil, biomedical, aeronautical, mechanical, electrical, aerospace, and chemical engineering.  Students seeking degrees in chemistry and physics may also apply. 

The benefits of receiving one of the scholarships cannot be understated. According to Courtney Podritz, who was a recipient of a 2008 Ross Wagner Scholarship, she was able to live on campus at the University of Minnesota and better focus on her schoolwork without the stress of student loans.

"Without the assistance of the Ross Wagner Scholarship I don't believe I would have pushed myself to keep a higher GPA, which allowed me to be chosen for the combined Bachelors and Masters of Science Degree in Biomedical Engineering, and been able to stay at school an extra year to complete my Masters degree."

A newer program at the University of Minnesota, the combined degree program allows qualified and chosen candidates to start a Masters of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering during their senior undergraduate year and complete it with one additional year of schooling. Podritz applied for the program the spring before her senior year and was one of four students accepted from her class for the program.

While completed her Masters Degree, Podritz worked as a Product Development Intern at St. Jude Medical in Roseville, Minnesota.  Through the position at St. Jude Medical she found an opportunity within the Medical Devices Center at the University of Minnesota as a Lab Supervisor and worked as a Teaching Assistant for the University's Mechanical Engineering Senior Design class. Her Masters project involved research with Pancreatic Cancer and she successfully defended her project to a committee this past May.  She is currently interviewing for positions at local medical device companies and hopes to find a position very soon.

"I greatly appreciate everything the Ross Wagner Scholarship has given me, she added.  "In the future I would like to give back to the scholarship so that other students like me can be given the leg-up that I was given."

For other past winners, the Ross Wagner Scholarship opened a doorway to the future that without it may not have been possible. Evan Owns, who was awarded a scholarship in 2008, was able to attend the University of Wisconsin and earned a degree in Civil Engineering. Since graduating in December 2012, he has been working as environmental engineer for Natural Resource Technology (NRT). Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, NRT is an environmental consulting company that focuses on groundwater, soil, and sediment remediation.

"All of the experiences and knowledge I gained at school is invaluable for the work that I am doing at NRT," Owens said. "Without the Ross Wagner Scholarship I am certain that I would not be where I am today."

The Ross Wagner Scholarships are open to high school students in the United States and Canada only in communities where Gemini has plants. Those communities are Farmville, Virginia; Taylor, Texas; Cannon Falls, Minnesota; Fallon, Nevada; Decorah, Iowa; and Hanover, Ontario.  It is also available to students attending high school in the hometowns of Gemini's founders; Howard, SD and Randolph, MN.  Funds from the $2 million account plus earnings will be dispersed to as many students as qualified until the fund is exhausted.

In addition, the student must attend one of the top 30 engineering schools in the U.S. and Canada as rated by U.S. News and World Report (those that include Doctorate programs).  Additionally, McGill University, the University of Waterloo and Simon Fraser University at Vancouver, British Columbia are eligible schools.  The student must maintain a B grade-point average, work in the school's engineering lab, and work in the field of endeavor during summer break.

A World War II veteran who witnessed the flag-raising at Iwo Jima, Ross C. Wagner (1924-1992) was also Vice President and General Manager of ADC during a time when the company grew from $3.5 million in sales to $400 million.  He succeeded Donald Mensing as chairman of Gemini's Board of Directors, and was instrumental in several engineering decisions at Gemini during the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Wagner graduated from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa and finished his studies at the University of Iowa.

Gemini Incorporated is a world leader in the development and production of dimensional letters, logos and plaques.  To serve its customers better, Gemini has 18 plants located in seven sites in North America.  Several full-expense reimbursement scholarships are available.  To apply or for a complete list of guidelines for the Ross Wagner Scholarship, go to or contact Nancy Vandergon at Gemini Incorporated at (507) 263-3957 no later than February 1, 2014.

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