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When Charles A. Chada ’72 left his hometown outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania nearly 55 years ago to pursue an engineering degree at Drexel University, he did so without a second thought.

“Drexel was my first choice because of its focus on engineering and the co-op program,” he says. “Not only did Drexel have a great reputation, but the opportunity to gain real-world experience right away was one of the key decision criteria.”

For Chada, the primary issue was affordability. Overcoming the financial obstacles to enroll at Drexel was only possible through educational opportunity grants, scholarships and projected earnings from co-op jobs that made attending possible, he says, all of which would play a significant role in his desire to give back years later.

Now, as he looks back on his career — which included five decades at Xerox, where he retired as a vice president of Lean Six Sigma — he can trace the foundations of his success back to his time as a Drexel student. To this day, Chada maintains that the thought process and skills he gained as a Drexel student served him well — not just as an engineer — but as he shifted to other assignments and organizations within the company.

Chada, who completed his first co-op in construction engineering with U.S. Steel, moved on to work in product design and development at Xerox, where he returned for his remaining co-op, and later began his career. Chada credits his co-op for providing the time to learn from, and with, the organization, allowing him to make contributions that brought real value to the company.

“Xerox had summer interns, but I always felt that when you came in for six months as part of a co-op, you were really viewed as part of the team,” he says. “I found that my first year after graduation was more productive because I had already gained so much experience.”

Beyond helping students secure jobs in the short-term, building and retaining key skills is essential to the development of industries which will contribute to the growth and success of our country, according to Chada. Having attended Drexel with the support of scholarships, Chada understands firsthand that this kind of continuous improvement is only possible by investing in the education — and experiences — that will enable success among the next generation of engineers and innovators.

Along with his wife, Joanne, Chada established the Charles A. Chada ’72 Endowed Scholarship Fund at the College of Engineering with a bequest pledge in 2023, providing support for students majoring in mechanical engineering and mechanics who have a demonstrated financial need. For the Chadas, this was an opportunity to establish a fund that would have a direct impact Drexel students.

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