David T. Leighton ’48 SM’53, MIT alumnus passed away on January 6, 2017. He was 91 years old.
Leighton was among the first to earn an MIT master’s degree in nuclear engineering. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1945 and went on to earn a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from MIT in 1948. As a naval officer in 1953, Leighton earned an MIT master’s degree in nuclear engineering before the Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) Department was formed.
For 26 years, Leighton served with Admiral Hyman Rickover in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, where he helped to design and construct nuclear-powered naval warships.
Leighton’s legacy at NSE continues. As part of his estate plans, Leighton established an MIT charitable gift annuity as a way to increase his support of graduate students. The remainder of the gift came to MIT upon his passing.
The Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering received the gift for graduate student fellowships.
Graduate enrollment at NSE continues to increase. The Department’s need for graduate fellowship funding, particularly support for first-year students, is critical.
“The financial flexibility these fellowships provide is critical to attracting the most talented students to the field and MIT,” says Dennis Whyte, NSE Department Head. “Furthermore, the Leighton Fellowships will enhance our diversity by focusing on the support of first-year female graduate students. The Fund will stand as a lasting legacy to the passion that David Leighton held for nuclear energy and a diverse nuclear engineering workforce.”
Leighton’s legacy gift will ensure that future generations of graduate students are given the opportunity to advance the field of nuclear science and engineering. “MIT is vital to the future of this country. It has a reputation for innovation and for increasing scientific and engineering knowledge in the world,” Leighton said.