NSE - Nuclear Science & Engineering at MIT


Inspiring a community of giving

Fred Buckman, Sidney Yip, MIT

Growing up in a family of seven children in Michigan, Fred Buckman dreamed of attending college at age 15. Although he was precocious and had skipped second grade, he faced significant disadvantages in the application process: no one in his family had attended college at that time, and only his mother and older sister had graduated from high school. But he was in luck: with financial aid from both the University of Michigan and a manufacturing company in Kalamazoo called Humphrey Products, Fred was able to achieve his dream, graduating with a degree in engineering as the first “Humphrey Scholar.” From there, he made his way to MIT, and with additional financial aid, he earned a PhD in nuclear science and engineering from the Institute in 1970. A five-decade career spanning both academia and industry then followed.

Years later, Humphrey Products called, asking Buckman if he wanted to come back to Kalamazoo to present a check to their twenty-fifth Humphrey Scholar. Moved by the experience, Buckman told the company’s president that he wished he could repay Humphrey Products; perhaps unsurprisingly, the response was, “do it for someone else.”

Buckman now finds himself in the fortunate position of being able to help others. In the fall of 2020, in order to honor one of the best professors he ever had, Buckman made a five-year pledge to the Sidney Yip Fellowship for Modeling and Simulation Fund. This contribution will significantly accelerate the department’s efforts to fully endow the Yip Fellowship Fund, thus helping future generations of graduate students to complete their degrees without financial burdens.

“My gift is intended to help others experience the same thrill of learning that I experienced. And also to help feel the enjoyment that application of that learning to problems of today and tomorrow brings,” stated Buckman.

As he was discussing his gift to the department, however, Buckman was unaware that the professor he was honoring, Sidney Yip, was in the process of making his own contribution to the department. As an emeritus faculty member, Yip has many fond memories of teaching and research in NSE, and he has developed much wisdom over the years about the inner workings of academia. Yip wanted to ensure the strength of the department well into the future, and considered that the best way to do this was by establishing a “community fund,” to be used at the discretion of the department head, to recognize and support contributions that demonstrate a “collegial and collaborative culture, altruistic spirit, or exemplary dedications.”

The first use of the new Sidney and Nita Yip NSE Fund was revealed in May 2021, when department head Prof. Anne White presented the inaugural Michael Driscoll award to the support staff in the department for “keeping the lights on during the darkest of times.” During the Covid-19 pandemic, while primarily working remotely, NSE staff helped to keep the department running, making sure doctoral students were able to defend their theses over Zoom and providing assistance as students faced other unexpected hardships. By recognizing the selfless contributions of NSE staff members, the department is helping to keep alive the community spirit embodied by the late Michael Driscoll, a much beloved member of the community who passed away unexpectedly in 2020. It is Yip’s hope that the establishment of the NSE Fund will inspire myriad acts of kindness that continue far into the future.

Additional contributions to the Yip Fellowship Fund and NSE Fund are appreciated. For more information, please contact NSE leadership giving officer Edith Wun at ewun@mit.edu.

July 2021

Department of Nuclear Science & Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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