When it comes to generosity toward the University of Mississippi School of Engineering, Ike Brodofsky (BSChE 03) and his wife, Amanda Trabue, are shining examples.
The couple recently established the Ike Brodofsky and Amanda Trabue Engineering Scholarship Endowment for chemical engineering students from Washington, Humphries, Sunflower, Leflore, Bolivar, Sharkey or Issaquena counties. The duo set up a scholarship, matched by Bridgestone, paid over five years until 2021.
Giving to higher education comes naturally for the pair. Both from large families, they know that paying for college expenses can be tough. Brodofsky came to the university largely because of the financial package UM offered him.
“I had always wanted to give back in some way to Ole Miss, but I never seemed to get over the hump to actually do anything,” Brodofsky said. “Having (my wife) guide me really helped, and in the end I realized that it was all in my head, and that I wish I had given back much earlier. We wanted to help those students realize their dream of a college degree.”
Trabue echoed her husband’s sentiment.
“I had already established a scholarship at my alma mater,” said the Glasgow, Kentucky, native who graduated with a B.A. in marketing in 2002 and an MBA in 2004 from Western Kentucky University. “I encouraged Ike that it was time to start one at his alma mater as well.”
A native of Greenville, Brodofsky said he instinctively knew he belonged at UM. His father and sister are also alumni, so it was a pretty easy decision for him to make.
“I loved the student-to-faculty ratio at Ole Miss, so I knew all of my professors quite well,” he said. “It was a well-rounded group, from Dr. (Randell) Price and his quirkiness to Dr. (Peter) Sukanek and his toughness to Dr. (Clint) Williford taking us on coffee breaks to wake up for his early morning reactions course to Dr. (John) O’Haver’s friendly conversations.”
Brodofsky remembers one of his favorite courses was Thermodynamics.
“It teaches you to see everything as simple algebra and builds problem-solving skills,” he said. “To this day, I use that philosophy in my career and try to tackle all problems by breaking it down into simple equations.”
A second course that truly challenged Brodofsky was Chemical Process Principles.
“It’s a decision course in that it forces you to quickly realize if you want to pursue this career,” he said. “It was not easy and not my favorite, but the challenge presented makes you quickly realize that even if you aren’t the brightest in the class that you can do this if you follow the teaching and seek help from the readily available faculty.”
Brodofsky is a senior process engineer for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations. Trabue is an associate dean for development and alumni relations at Vanderbilt University. The couple lives in Nashville.
“I am involved with developing rubber formulas for tires of all sizes from tiny car tires to massive mining tires and scaling up those formulas to production volumes,” Brodofsky said. “There is also a great deal of troubleshooting for day-to-day issues that arise in a manufacturing setting.”
Brodofsky said his Ole Miss engineering education has proven invaluable to him on the job.
“You must be able to quickly handle these problems and find the optimal solution without sacrificing safety, quality or production,” he said. “My education gave me a lot of confidence to tackle these problems. Chemical engineering builds a strong base in being able to define a problem. If you can define it, then you can solve it.”
Brodofsky and Trabue both travel frequently for work, so one of their hobbies is taking weekend getaways with their travel points to relax. They also enjoy trying new restaurants and activities and being tourists in their own city with the many events and activities Nashville has to offer.
“We have season football tickets to both our schools, so we are on the go nonstop during the football season traveling between Oxford and Bowling Green to watch the Rebels and the Hilltoppers,” he said.
“What a great example of the legacy our professors help to foster with our students,” said Kevin Gardner, development officer for the engineering school. “Ike and Amanda creatively combined their gratitude for home by paying tribute to the chemical engineering department and counties surrounding Greenville in the Mississippi Delta, thereby creating an engineering endowment scholarship. We are grateful for their sacrifice and passionate desire to help move Ole Miss from great to greater.”
With this gift, the School of Engineering Scholarship Committee will be able to select a deserving student who has demonstrated an exceptional academic record and remained in a major track in engineering at the university.
Dean Alex Cheng said the donation has already proven very beneficial to the program.
“It was during an engineering tailgating that I was introduced to Amanda and Ike,” Cheng said. “We chatted, and I was surprised by such passion and goodwill coming from a relatively young couple.”