Alumnus Jim O’Neill sees how investments translate to scholarship during visit to campus

September 24, 2021

O'Neill and Boyle at equipment in lab.

Camden Boyle, a first-year graduate student, shows Jim O’Neill ’81, ’82 equipment in the lab where’s he is working on research to advance nano-technology.

A prominent alumnus and supporter of Mizzou Engineering had the opportunity to see how his investments are translating into scholarship during a visit to campus on Friday, Sept. 17. Jim O’Neill, Civil Engineering ’81, ’82, met with Assistant Professor Oliver Giraldo-Londoño, the inaugural James W. and Joan M. O’Neill Scholar in Engineering, and Camden Boyle and Alex Morehead, both recipients of the James W. and Joan M. O’Neill Graduate Fellowship.

The visit showed the importance of alumni support for scholarship, research and Mizzou’s continued affiliation with the Association of American Universities (AAU).

“The best way alumni can support this important effort is to provide funding for R&D via endowments or direct funding to our professors and graduate students,” said O’Neill, who retired as president of Boeing Defense Space & Security Development and the St. Louis Senior Executive. “To do that, R&D funding levels must increase from current levels. They can use this funding as seed money to support efforts that will allow them to capture large grants from the U.S. government and industry. Support of R&D at MU enhances the experience for all students and benefits Missouri’s economy.”

O'Neill, Londono and Edara in 3D Lab.

Oliver Giraldo-Londoño, left, and Praveen Edara, right, show Jim O’Neill equipment and outcomes in the 3D Printing Research and Experiences Lab.

In addition to his faculty role in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), Giraldo-Londoño oversees research in the 3D Printing Research and Experiences Lab. During his visit with O’Neill, he and CEE Chair Praveen Edara showed off the lab’s 3D printing equipment and capabilities.

It was impressive to see a young faculty member take on a leadership role within the college, O’Neill said.

“Oliver’s role in the 3D printing lab, at such an early stage of his career, is impressive and shows the confidence the Dean of Engineering and the Chair of CEE have in him,” O’Neill said. “He is bringing a very fresh and innovative approach to utilize this lab in a practical way for both industrial application and academic research.”

In addition to establishing an endowed faculty position and graduate fellowship, O’Neill serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for Mizzou Engineering and is a recipient of the 2014 Missouri Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Engineering. He is also an inductee of Civil Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni Members.

“We appreciate all that the O’Neills have done for engineering faculty and students, and we’re grateful Jim had the opportunity to see the impact of their investments first-hand,” said Matt Osterthun, executive director of advancement for the College. “This is a great example of how alumni support directly translates into excellence in scholarship and research at Mizzou Engineering.”

Dean Noah Manring agreed, adding that it’s important for students to see alumni who have been highly successful in the field.

“Jim O’Neill is an excellent example of the College’s legacy of engineering leadership,” Manring said. “Not only has he contributed to engineering as a profession, he’s made a significant difference at Mizzou Engineering to ensure future generations will also reap the benefits of a high-quality engineering education.”