New scholarships available for architecture, engineering students at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Old Main on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus is shown in this file photo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo)
Old Main on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus is shown in this file photo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo)

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville architecture and engineering students will have access to a new scholarship -- as well as the opportunity for a paid internship -- thanks to Cromwell Architects Engineers.

The firm, with locations in Springdale and Little Rock, has contributed $100,000 to create two endowed scholarships for students studying in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design and in the College of Engineering, the university announced Monday. The Cromwell Architects Engineers Endowed Scholarship for Excellence in Architecture and the Cromwell Architects Engineers Endowed Scholarship for Excellence in Engineering will not only assist with the cost of education, but students will be able to work a minimum of one summer in a paid internship at either of the firm's offices.

"Academic success, affordability, and career readiness are cornerstones of our land-grant mission of service to our students and our state, [and] Cromwell Architects Engineers' support will help advance that mission for years to come," Chancellor Charles Robinson said in a news release from the university. "We are grateful for their generosity and thrilled about the impact these scholarships and internships will make in the lives of our students and throughout the state."

Nearly half of the firm's employees are graduates of the University of Arkansas System, and state workforce and economic development has been a hallmark of Cromwell since its founding in 1885, according to Cromwell President Dan Fowler.

"We want to make sure that we're giving the graduates the visibility of the building industry and the opportunities to do some amazing work here in Arkansas -- and that they stay here for their careers," Fowler said.

A native of Little Rock, Fowler -- who graduated from UA-Fayetteville in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in architecture -- started working at Cromwell as an intern at age 19, returning often as an intern throughout his architectural education before joining full time following graduation.

His internship opportunity "had a massive impact on my education, and on my career trajectory as well, but I think probably most importantly on my education because it allowed me to take practical applications of what I was learning and bring it back to my classes and start to really investigate things from a practical perspective as well as a theoretical perspective," Fowler said in the news release. Internships like the one Cromwell will offer will give students "great exposure early in their career, where they're very open to learning about industries and where they can apply their knowledge and have a career."

Interns will be able to work in a variety of areas, including architecture, civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering specialties, as well as interior designers, construction administrators, and energy and facility service. First consideration for the scholarships will be given to students from Faulkner, Grant, Lonoke, Perry, Pulaski and Saline counties, or within a 150-mile radius of those locations, according to the university. The scholarships will support full-time students from Arkansas who demonstrate financial need, ambition in their work ethic, character and academic success, a commitment to serve their community, and potential for success in the profession.

"We know that immersion in an internship program and other high-impact practices lead to greater outcomes for student success," Scott Varady, vice chancellor for advancement, said in the news release. "We could not be more appreciative of this partnership with Cromwell and are grateful for their ongoing commitment to preparing future U of A graduates for the workforce."

Cromwell has long had a close relationship with the Fay Jones School, including sponsoring lectures for the school's annual lecture series, but this scholarship will build stronger ties with the College of Engineering, as well.

"Engineers have a lot of different paths they can take," Greg Cockmon, Cromwell's chief executive officer, said in the news release. "If we can have an impact at least in getting the students to understand what we do for vertical building design and horizontal building design, I think that's exciting."

The College of Engineering is "grateful for this generous donation from Cromwell that highlights the profound interconnection between architecture and engineering," Dean Kim Needy said in the news release. "Their commitment to funding student scholarships and providing internship opportunities for our engineering students is a testament to their dedication to education and the future of these professions."

Architecture Dean Peter MacKeith was similarly enthusiastic, noting the gift multiplies Cromwell's impact "across architecture and engineering, not only enabling deserving students to succeed in their studies, but emphasizing the collaborative nature of the disciplines and professions."

Cromwell's industry faces labor shortages like many other sectors, and "we want to make sure there's access, there's visibility, there's people understanding what it is that we do," Fowler said in the release. "Supporting the students, in both architecture and engineering, I think is the path to do that long term."

Scholarship amounts are generally paid from interest generated by the endowments, according to Michelle Parks, director of communications for the Fay Jones School. "Each of the $50,000 funds will typically generate $2,000 to $2,500 in interest each year for a scholarship, depending on the markets."

The firm's professional connection to the university dates back more than 100 years, with the original design of Carnall Hall in 1905, and Cromwell has worked on architecture, engineering, or commissioning projects for 30 campus buildings over the past three decades, according to the university. The firm also designed the first LEED-certified building in the state, the university's Innovation Center.

Cromwell Architects Engineers also played a significant role in establishing courthouse architecture standards in the state, with designs for county courthouses like the Washington County Courthouse. Ed Cromwell, who joined the firm in 1941, was a catalyst for preserving the unique qualities of the Capital Hotel, the Arkansas Territorial Capital (now Historic Arkansas Museum), and numerous historic houses in the oldest neighborhoods of Little Rock, according to the university.

Cromwell Architects Engineers has teamed with other Arkansas firms on several major projects, such as Heifer International Headquarters, Forest City Federal Prison, and the Clinton Presidential Library, among others.