New scholarship offered at Ivy Tech

Students interested in earning an engineering-related degree have a new scholarship option for covering the expense.

Ivy Tech Community College Columbus campus will begin offering the Robert N. Brown Engineering Scholarship during the 2017-18 school year. Brown, the late former publisher of The Republic and chairman of its parent company, Home News Enterprises, had a love of engineering and problem solving. His children established the scholarship in his honor.

The scholarship is intended for full-time students who just graduated from high school, and covers the cost of the two-year program. The scholarship is for students who have declared for a degree in either engineering or mechanical engineering technology or downgrade to a degree in design technology or advanced automation and robotics technologies.

Eventually, two scholarship recipients will be in the program at the same time — one in the first year and the other in the second.

To start with, the scholarship will be for $4,000 a year.

“Anything we can do to help folks in the community who don’t have the resources or advantages to pursue their degree, we need to do things to help,” said Jeff Brown, whose family owned The Republic for six generations until 2015.

The scholarship was created by Jeff Brown and his three sisters, Peggy Brown, Dr. Susan Brown and Rebecca Brown.

“We had an opportunity to match what Ivy Tech wanted to accomplish, with something my dad would smile about,” he said.

Robert Brown earned an electrical engineering degree from Purdue University in the 1940s. One of the things he loved about the newspaper industry was the technology changes, such as the move to offset printing, his son said.

Robert Brown also worked with architects to build two newspaper offices, for The Republic in Columbus and the Daily Journal in Franklin.

Jeff Brown recalled how in 1959 his father built, using pinball machine parts, a computer that could play tic-tac-toe, which he and his siblings found interesting and fun.

The scholarship will help some students earn an engineering-related degree at a fraction of the cost at other schools, while also helping to promote Ivy Tech’s engineering program, said Steven Combs, the Columbus campus president.

“It’s amazing for us. That brings awareness that we have a two-year transfer engineering degree, which makes sense in Columbus where we have the highest concentration of engineers,” Combs said.

Ivy Tech’s engineering degree transfers locally to IUPUC, and the mechanical engineering technology degree transfers locally to Purdue Polytechnic Institute, Combs said.

Jeff Brown, a Community Education Coalition board member, had shared with Combs his siblings’ desire to honor their father, Combs said.

Combs said he later pitched the scholarship idea to Brown, who embraced it.

Brown said he has been impressed with local programs and partnerships Ivy Tech has created and thinks the scholarship will make a positive impact.

Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County will administer the scholarship, but students will apply for it through Ivy Tech.

An Ivy Tech committee will select the scholarship recipients and inform the Heritage Fund of the winners, Brown said. Heritage Fund will then transfer the scholarship money to the Ivy Tech Foundation so it can pay the costs, said Tracy Souza, Heritage Fund’s president and CEO.

“The No. 1 barrier for kids to go to school is money. Any time we can help with that barrier, we’re glad to do it,” Souza said.

Because the scholarship was just created, it will take time to promote it among high school seniors. Now is the time when many seniors take college visits and explore scholarship opportunities, Souza said.

About the scholarship

What: Robert N. Brown Engineering Scholarship

Where: Ivy Tech Community College Columbus campus

Why: Established in memory of Robert N. Brown, former owner of The Republic and Home News Enterprises, by his children to honor his love of engineering and problem solving

Who: For full-time students who have declared for a degree in either engineering or mechanical engineering technology, or downgrade to a degree in design technology or advanced automation and robotics technologies.

When: Begins in fall of 2017-18 school year

Value: $4,000 per year ($2,000 per semester)


  • Applicants should be a graduating high school senior
  • Minimum 2.5 grade-point average
  • Applicants must be enrolled in the Commit to Finish mentoring program that is intended to help students stay on track to earn their degree
  • Recipients must graduate from the program in two years
  • Financial need will be considered

To apply: Contact Mollie Knoch at the Ivy Tech Foundation Office to get an application. She can be reached by email at or by calling 812-374-5347.

Author photo
Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at or (812) 379-5639.