College of Engineering News Room

Engineering Alum Honors his Father with a Scholarship Fund

Dennis Blankenship, '87 believes in the power of giving and he's paying it forward by establishing the Norman N. Blankenship Family Scholarship for Engineering.

After receiving a much needed scholarship at a critical time in his academic career that enabled him to complete his degree in engineering technology, his philanthropic mission ever since has been to support the next generation of engineers. He and his wife, Sherri, recently established the Norman N. Blankenship Family Scholarship For Engineering.

"I received the Edgar W. Kopp Memorial Scholarship going into my last semester with a new baby on the way," said Dennis. "It was a godsend at a critical time of financial need that ignited my philanthropic spark. I was not sure at the time exactly how or when I’d be able to pay that gift forward but I knew I would one day."

Norman Blankenship

Norman Blankenship

He had always envisioned a scholarship in honor of his father, Norman N. Blankenship, who instilled in him the importance of  hard work and the vision Norman had for what an engineering education would do for his son. 

Dennis serves on the College of Engineering Advisory Board and a recent encounter with another board member who had established a similar scholarship inspired him to move forward with the idea.

"As my father gets older, it's become important to me that he sees the scholarship established before his time on this earth is up," said Dennis.

Norman Blankenship and his seven siblings grew up hovering around the poverty line in Turkey Creek near Plant City. As a child he worked in the strawberry fields each summer to put clothes on his back for the school year.

Dennis Blankenship

Dennis Blankenship (center) with Dean Robert H. Bishop and President Judy Genshaft at the 2019 Engineering Honors Awards Dinner.

"I want to share the pride my family has in making this impactful investment in the USF College of Engineering, so others can have some insight into what it has meant to my father and my family in honoring his legacy and his dream for a better life for his son," said Dennis.

The scholarship, initially funded by a $100,000 donation from the Blankenship family, will exist in perpetuity to help support military veterans and diverse engineering students with financial needs in the fields of computer science, computer engineering, cybersecurity, and information technology, and as a testament to Norman's simple dream from a factory floor to a better life for his son through an engineering education.

 "Don’t ever underestimate how much a hand up, no matter the amount, can mean to someone in need and impact their lives."

 If you would like to donate to the Norman N. Blankenship Family Scholarship For Engineering (fund #226042) click here.