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William O. and Ardath S. Grimes Scholarship in Mechanical Engineering

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The William O. and Ardath S. Grimes Scholarship in Mechanical Engineering was established in 2015 by William O. Grimes to benefit undergraduate students with financial need in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.

William Grimes grew up in Austin and attended then-brand-new Austin Junior High School, which is now Austin High. During high school, he worked part-time as a lifeguard at Barton Springs and also as a page at the State Capitol, but he knew early on that he wanted to be an engineer. After graduating high school, he enrolled at UT Austin, where he was president of the Ramshorn Club started by Dean Taylor at the Engineering School. Grimes graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1943.

The year after he graduated, Grimes had a Class II deferment from military service after performing an essential job for the war effort testing electric motors used on submarines and gas turbines for General Electric in Schenectady, New York. While at GE, Grimes took special engineering courses offered only to the best students.

In 1944, when his deferment was about to expire, Grimes joined the U.S. Naval Reserve, eventually serving as an ensign on a PT boat in the Philippines. When the war ended, Grimes returned to UT to pursue a graduate degree in mechanical engineering and even taught some courses himself. Grimes particularly remembers a lesson he gave on the importance of setting a good pattern for one’s education and career. He says that “all of the tools a person needs in order to be a good engineer are tools that will help him or her in life: optimism, persistence, looking for the most efficient solution, keeping an open mind, and keeping the goal in mind, just to name a few.”

While Grimes was a graduate student, he met Ardath Singletary. His sister, Frances, and Ardath both worked in the Registrar's office at the time, and Francis arranged a blind date for them. “The rest is history,” as he says. Ardath and Bill were married in 1948 and they raised four children together.

After earning his master’s in engineering mechanics in 1950, Grimes began working for Humble Oil at their gas plant in Katy. During the war, only outdated gas engines were available for domestic purposes. Everything needed an upgrade, so there were all kinds of engineering problems for Grimes to work on. He went on to work for Humble in Houston and made many good friends there.

In 1964, the whole family moved to The Hague, Netherlands, where Grimes was working on a North Sea pipeline collaboration between Esso and Shell Oil. Ardath also joined Grimes on positions in Bordeaux and in Aberdeen. Field work in the Netherlands, Scotland, England, France, the Philippines, and Australia added to the adventures he looks back on fondly, and the whole family loved these journeys and treasured the opportunities to explore other lands and cultures.

Grimes hopes this scholarship can help students as they set off on their own engineering pathway, and that they find the field as rewarding as he has.

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