Gaurav Shah Receives Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship

Mechanical Engineering student Gaurav Shah is one of the 50 college seniors who have been selected as recipients of the first Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholarships, the most generous individual scholarship in the nation. These 50 men and women, ages 19 to 50, represent the "first class" of Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholars, will receive up to $50,000 a year for up to six years to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field at an accredited university.

As a child growing up in Pune, India and observing his father, a designer engineer, at work, Gaurav realized early on that he wanted to dedicate his life to mechanical engineering, for "mechanical engineers," Gaurav says, "form the backbone of every industry and develop mechanical systems that help people live better and comfortable lives."

Transferring to the University of Maryland from India in the Fall of 2000 to pursue his life-long ambition of becoming an engineer, Gaurav says was a "turning point" in his life, and despite the initial challenges of a new culture and language, he has managed to excel academically at the University of Maryland.

Gaurav's own experience motivated him to help other international students overcome the obstacles of assimilating into American culture through his work as a member of the Student Council of India. As a volunteer for this organization, he assists students in finding accommodations and adjusting to life in the U.S. In addition, as an engineering student and Pi Tau Sigma member, Gaurav also takes pleasure in teaching children from public schools simple science and engineering.

He has developed several projects during his tenure at the University of Maryland, which reflect his keen interest in design optimization and methodologies, and the Indian electronic industry. He hopes his research will help product development engineers from around the globe improve the manner in which they store their work for future reuse, and facilitate their communications.

Gaurav plans to pursue an M.S. in Control Engineering and ultimately establish a firm that builds automatically guided vehicles (AGVs) for special work environments.

The late Jack Kent Cooke, who was unable to go to college in the midst of the Depression, set aside the bulk of his estate to create a foundation dedicated to education. The foundation is setting aside approximately $10 million over the course of the next six years to support this first class of 50 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholars.

“The selection of six of our graduates as Jack Kent Cooke Scholars is a wonderful tribute to our pursuit of academic excellence,” said University of Maryland President and Professor of Mechanical Engineering C.D. Mote. “These awards will enable all of these students to focus their attention entirely on their graduate education. I know that all of us appreciate the generosity of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and I am sure that the students will recognize opportunities in their future to give back generously as well.”

“We want to make a statement that now is the time to be investing in the next generation of leaders for our country and the world,” said Matthew J. Quinn, executive director of the Foundation. “We expect great things from these scholars as they go forward in life.”

For more information on the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, go to their website at

Published May 1, 2002