By Grace Ombry
Winona, Minnesota—Benjamin Wooden of Edina, Minn. was named the first recipient of the Michael A. Barnard Memorial Scholarship at Winona State University (WSU). The scholarship, established by the Gougeon Employees Foundation, is designed to benefit Winona State University students majoring in Composites Materials Engineering. It emphasizes community involvement and leadership rather than grade point average.
According to his scholarship essay, Wooden chose to pursue an education in composites engineering at Winona State because it fit nicely with his areas of interest. “I have a love of engineering that started when I was young,” Wooden said. “I spent countless hours of my childhood building and designing with [LEGO® bricks]. As I grew older I enjoyed studying math, physics, and chemistry. I love problem-solving and thinking creatively. I’ve also been enthralled with flight since a young age. I love airplanes. I love rockets. I love pretty much anything that flies through the air.”
As for his goals, Wooden said, “I aspire to land a job where a combined background in aviation and composites engineering will allow me to excel.” He is currently paying his way through college as well as taking flying lessons.
In addition to serving as a residence hall assistant at WSU, Wooden is an active volunteer in service to the poor and hungry.
The scholarship was established as a tribute to Winona graduate and Gougeon Technical Advisor Michael A. Barnard, who passed away unexpectedly on July 28, 2017. The Gougeon Employee Foundation endowed the scholarship with $30,000 in Barnard’s name in order to support students who can continue his legacy of advancing the use of composite materials. Scholarship applications are accepted through WSU, with finalists forwarded to the Gougeon Employees Foundation and winners announced by the Foundation in May.
Wooden’s award will be approximately $1,000 to be used toward his education and will be presented at an awards ceremony at WSU in September 2018.