Undergraduate scholarships are an essential component of the University of Maine’s $200 million Vision for Tomorrow comprehensive campaign. An estate gift from an anonymous donor is leveraging additional support for many existing scholarship funds as part of the campaign, including a scholarship that was established in 2005 by Shyka, Sheppard & Garster (SSG) of Bangor, Maine. SSG provides a full range of surveying services and utilizes the latest surveying technologies to produce accurate, timely, and cost-effective survey and spatial information for a variety of industry sectors including engineering, architecture, construction, land development, public utilities, and local, state, and federal government.
Shep Sheppard ’86 is one of two founders of SSG. He received his Bachelor’s degree in surveying engineering from UMaine and continues to live in Orono, just a few miles from his alma mater. Shep serves on the industrial advisory committee of UMaine’s Surveying Engineering Technology program and is also connected to the College of Engineering through his late father, Edmund “Ned” Sheppard, who was on the faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department for many years.
Shep points out that the original idea for the scholarship came from his business partner, Rob Garster. Rob and Shep founded their company in 1994 and acquired the assets of Andrew J. Shyka, PLS in 1998. Andrew “Andy” Shyka was considered by all to be a tremendous mentor, and the SSG principals felt that creating the Andrew J. Shyka Surveying Scholarship was the “right thing to do.” In addition to honoring Andy Shyka’s commitment to his profession, the scholarship helps the University of Maine and its students. SSG has given more than $25,000 to the scholarship, qualifying Shep and Rob for membership within the University of Maine’s prestigious Stillwater Society. “The Vision for Tomorrow match is a great program,” said Shep, “it’s a similar incentive to the 80th match,” which the company utilized to strengthen its scholarship while celebrating the 80th anniversary of the University of Maine Foundation.
Dana Humphrey, Dean of the College of Engineering, underscores the value of the Vision for Tomorrow campaign for the College of Engineering. “We are experiencing a tremendous demand for our graduates,” said Humphrey, “the new Engineering Education and Design Center and scholarships such as the one established by Shyka, Sheppard & Garster will help us provide Maine and our nation with talented professionals. It is rewarding to see our alumni giving back to help the next generation of students.”
The scholarship also provides Shep with an opportunity to remember his own experience as a student and how his years at UMaine prepared him for a career that he continues to enjoy. “I actually appreciate all aspects of my work,” said Shep, “I like being outside and the diversity of our projects, ranging from the Jackson Laboratory to the Cumberland County Civic Center.” He explains that his work takes him out on the water and into the woods. “The best part of our business, however, is the relationships. That’s what I enjoy the most and what really matters.”