The Krumm Family Scholarship Fund will support future electrical and computer engineering students

The Krumm Family Scholarship Fund is the second scholarship fund endowed by Charles and Patricia Krumm in their quest to benefit society through higher education.
Patricia and Charles Krumm
Patricia and Charles Krumm

As the knee-deep snow crunched underfoot along his Grand Rapids paper route, 10-year-old Charles “Chuck” Krumm (BS MS PhD ECE 1963 1965 1970) learned the value of hard work and meticulous attention to detail. During these early years, his father also instilled in him an appreciation for learning. Together, these values led to a successful engineering career and a desire to use the educational system to impact society for the better, and more recently, inspired a $1M bequest to support graduate education in Electrical and Computer Engineering. 

We asked Krumm to reflect on his time at Michigan, his career, and what inspired his generosity to the next generation of Electrical and Computer Engineers through the Krumm Family Scholarship Fund.

Why did you choose the University of Michigan for your own education, and what did you find here?

After high school, I attended community college for two years before transferring to the University of Michigan. The decision was easy because it had one of the best engineering schools in the country. 

I discovered that top-notch students from every corner of the globe compete for the chance to study at Michigan with its world-renowned faculty and world-class facilities. Each student brings their own perspective and cultural heritage, offering their peers the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the world at large.

I also found that students can gain exposure to a wide range of academic and cultural experiences. For me, those experiences developed into lifelong interests in travel, music, history, and art. I also gained many lasting friendships through the activities I enjoyed at Michigan.

What are some of your favorite memories?

Many of my most cherished memories involve the interactions and friendships with my fellow students. I enjoyed going to football games with my roommates, stopping at the original Pretzel Bell, eating at Metzger’s and the Old German restaurants, spending time at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library, and later hiding in the carrels at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library to study for exams. I also enjoyed the diverse cultural opportunities Michigan has to offer, including attending concerts and visiting campus museums, which fostered a continuing interest in these hobbies for me.

My time at Michigan was also personally very rewarding, since I met and married my wife during my graduate studies when she was also studying for her master’s degree in Speech Pathology.

What did you do after graduating from the University of Michigan?

After graduating from Michigan, I went to work for Raytheon (now part of RTX) in Boston. I led a team developing gallium arsenide (GaAs) field effect transistor (FET) technology. Later, after moving to Hughes Research Labs (now HRL), I led a team developing GaAs device technologies for aircraft and space applications. This effort produced the first GaAs FET amplifier working above 30 GHz and a digital flip-flop with a clock frequency of 15 GHz, which was a world record at the time.

I believe we are all responsible for ensuring that our developments are used for the overall benefit of society.

Chuck Krumm

In 1989, I was offered the opportunity to lead a diverse team of aerospace companies and their suppliers as a part of a large government effort to upgrade to U.S. capability in GaAs monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs). These circuits operate in the microwave and millimeter frequency bands and are useful in a wide variety of military applications, such as active array radars and many communications systems. Our team was a joint effort managed by Hughes and GE Aerospace. The major focus of the team’s efforts was to refine the processes used to manufacture GaAs monolithic circuits for active array radar applications. I am proud to say that many of the technologies we developed have been put into radar systems used by the Air Force, Army, and Navy. In retrospect, it was an honor to participate in this program and to see the technology be so widely deployed.

I later joined Conexant to manage the manufacturing operation that produced GaAs cell phone power amplifiers. This activity merged with Alpha Industries to become Skyworks, which is now one of the world’s largest producers of these devices.

What challenges do you think future engineering students will face?

We are living through an amazing period of technological innovation. However, as innovators, we often fail to pause and consider the ramifications of each incremental change that we make. Often, the societal impacts of any particular innovation are not immediately evident. Nevertheless, I believe we are all responsible for ensuring that our developments are used for the overall benefit of society. If that is true, then we should all have a desire to build on our improvements and an obligation to correct any flaws. That work is challenging and will undoubtedly require a highly skilled and well-educated workforce. Fortunately, Michigan is very well suited to address larger societal issues and train the incoming generations of students.

Additionally, engineering education is expensive today. Long gone are the days when students needed only a calculator, access to a mainframe computer, and a few electronic instruments––shared among many graduate students––to do their thesis research. Today’s students have fully-equipped cleanrooms for nanoscale research, server farms for computer science research, and ultra-high vacuum molecular beam epitaxy machines for novel materials development. Facilities must be built to house this equipment, and they typically operate 24 hours per day. These research requirements raise the cost of attendance. Ultimately, one of the major impediments to pursuing a graduate education today is the financial cost to the individual.

How do you see the Krumm Family Scholarship Fund alleviating the effects of these issues for students?

In my view, scholarships are a direct means of encouraging talented students to pursue graduate education. Scholarships help minimize the financial burden of getting an advanced degree. During my later career, as a manager, I often thought of my job as removing the obstacles to success for my employees. Certainly, scholarships fill that bill.

Initially, I helped found the George I. Haddad Graduate Fellowship Fund in honor of Professor Haddad’s many academic achievements and outstanding contributions to U-M ECE. That scholarship has now reached financial viability thanks to additional contributors who wanted to acknowledge Professor Haddad, and is passing out scholarships to worthy students.

As time passed, my wife and I decided to found the Krumm Family Scholarship Fund because we believed so strongly in the importance of education––not only for personal advancement, but as a benefit to society. Scholarships are gifts that keep on giving. Funds that can initially support a single scholarship can grow, through investment, to support many students over generations. Likewise, one can hope that the students who are supported by these scholarships will be motivated later in their careers to continue this philanthropic tradition.