SUCCESSFUL ALUM STARTS SECOND UTEP SCHOLARSHIP
Peter Chan is a civil engineer turned entrepreneur who credits The University of Texas at El Paso for helping him succeed. He set up an endowed scholarship to help future students almost 25 years ago. Now he is ready to do more, and he wants your help.
Chan earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering in 1989 and ’90, respectively. He worked for a West Texas engineering company for several years before moving to Phoenix, Arizona, and eventually started his own consulting firm that specialized in water and wastewater projects. He sold his business in 2009 and invested in real estate. Today the married father of two grown children spends half his time traveling around the world helping communities design water filtration and wastewater systems.
Chan, whose parents died when he was 12, struggled financially through high school in his native Malaysia. He worked many odd jobs to earn enough money to attend college in the United States. He searched Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges for top engineering schools that were affordable, and UTEP was at the top of the list. His plan was to take as many credit hours as he could during his one year at UTEP before heading back to Malaysia to earn more money. He completed 51 credit hours during that year, to include 18 from El Paso Community College, but he also applied for and received scholarships that helped with his tuition. In fact, he earned so much scholarship money that he did not have to go home.
He started his first UTEP scholarship in 1993 to help the next generation of civil engineering students and to pay back the donors and faculty members who assisted and supported his dream.
The Gilbert, Arizona, resident said he hopes the latest endowed scholarship he created for engineering students in August 2017 will help attract top talent from around the world who believe in the American dream.
“It is through diversity and competition that students can benefit and be at their best,” said Chan, who credits the many scholarships he received for helping him get through UTEP. “I want students to think big, think positive.”
He wants the new scholarship to be a platform for recurring donations of all amounts from the community. He hopes the fund will help the University solicit the best and brightest students.
Anthony Tarquin, Ph.D., professor of civil engineering, is one of Chan’s former professors and continues to be a close family friend. He said Chan’s generosity and commitment to his alma mater did not surprise him.
“He recognizes that the University is why he is where he is today,” Tarquin said. “He wants others to benefit, too.”
- Daniel Perez