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Dr. Allen S. Novick: Leader, visionary, Boilermaker

Dr. Allen NovakWhat better way to honor a three-degree Purdue engineer who championed success in business and education than by establishing a scholarship in his name?

That's exactly what family and friends did to honor the life, legacy and memory of Allen S. Novick.

Novick was born in Brookline, Mass. but moved to West Lafayette to attend to Purdue University in 1960 with the dream, desire and determination to become an engineer.

"Purdue was a great place for him to do that,” says his son, Kent Novick. “There’s a reason Purdue has the reputation it has as a world-class institution. To get an opportunity to study there is a pretty special thing.”

On his own, without help from anyone, the senior Novick earned his bachelor, master and doctorate degrees in aeronautical engineering from Purdue and ended up working and staying in the Midwest his entire life.

In the process, Novick remained an avid supporter of Purdue athletics, active in the John Purdue Club and a fixture at football and basketball games.

“Al loved everything about Purdue," says colleague Betsy Spencer.

In fact, upon hearing that the Purdue Alumni Association was establishing a signature event in Indianapolis called the “Boilermaker Ball,” Novick wanted to help. “He immediately asked how he could be helpful in making it a success,” says Kirk Cerny, President & CEO of the Purdue Alumni Association. “He was a very well-rounded Boilermaker.”

Armed with his Purdue education Novick had joined the Detroit Diesel Allison Division of General Motors (now Rolls Royce) in 1972. He rose through the ranks in a variety of assignments and retired in 2009 as the Vice President of Marketing Intelligence and Support. During his distinguished career, Allen received many accolades, including the Purdue Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award in 2006. Regional Airline World nominated him for a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. Recently, he served as an Honorary Industry Professor for Purdue's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He remained active in the aerospace industry, consulting with suppliers and speaking at industry engagements.

In the mid-1980s, Novick was assigned the responsibility to lead Allison Gas Turbine, Co. into the commercial airline engine business. Under his direction, the program was successfully executed and took flight.

“He started with a team of five and grew that to over 100 in less than five years," says Spencer, who worked with him at the time. "He knew how to identify people’s strengths and surrounded himself with those people.”

It was through this gift that Novick became renowned for mentoring those he worked with and encouraging those embarking on a career in engineering.

“Al had the ability to connect with people," Spencer says. "Once he made his connection with someone, he didn’t let go."

Each fall Novick would give a presentation to graduate students. “He talked to them about what would come after graduation and what the industry would expect of them,” Spencer noted.

Mentoring students and young engineers was one of the ways he showed his commitment and dedication to seeing others become successful.

Novick’s daughter, Michelle Novick, adds: “My dad embodied the traits of hard work and dedication, and he looked for those in others. When he met students who showed these characteristics, he would do all that he could to help them along.”

“He said you never know where the next leader will come from,” says his son, Kent. “He wanted people to keep learning and to be better.”

Cerny adds: “Part of his effectiveness as an alumni ambassador for Purdue came from his direct nature. When he saw something that could be improved, he would identify it and make concrete suggestions. He would also take time to identify and praise something that was working well.”

Upon Novick's passing in 2012, family and friends determined that a scholarship would be the most fitting way to honor his life and legacy. In lieu of flowers, it was requested that contributions be made to Allen Novick Scholarship Fund, which would support an in-state undergraduate student enrolled in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

“We established this scholarship to remember what he had given back to the community as well as the University,” says Spencer. “Flowers are temporary. We wanted something that would be ongoing and that would benefit students in Indiana, and in engineering, which was his love.”

Kent Novick agrees. “Dad wanted the world to be a better place. Everybody needs someone to help get him or her going. Being involved was his way of paying that forward and being that guy for someone else. This scholarship is how we honor what was important to him.”