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Engineering innovator launches new scholarship fund

Engineering innovator James W. Healy, E’54, has invested $5 million to establish a new scholarship fund for outstanding undergraduate students in Northeastern’s College of Engineering.

Through the James W. Healy Scholars Fund, recipients will receive full tuition, room, and board. Scholarships may be available to recipients pursing graduate school should they continue their studies at Northeastern.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the students who benefit from this scholarship,” Healy said. “I’m grateful that my work has afforded me the opportunity to give back to the College of Engineering and its students.”

The gift continues Healy’s longstanding support of the College of Engineering and its students. In 2006, he established a charitable remainder trust to benefit the College, and in 1999 he created another scholarship fund to recruit and retain high-achieving engineering undergraduates.

“Northeastern helped prepare Jim for a long and successful career, and we are thankful for his continued support of our college,” said Nadine Aubry, dean of the College of Engineering. “We are thrilled about his latest investment to provide scholarship assistance to our talented engineering students.”

Healy is the founder and former president of Healy Systems, Inc., which he started in 1965 under the name Cambridge Engineering, Inc. and sold in 2006. Over his career, he designed and patented several vapor recovery systems that improve gasoline vapor recovery during motor vehicle refueling to significantly reduce emissions; the systems are used in more than 100,000 gas service stations worldwide.

Healy holds more than 90 patents, and his passion for innovation and invention continues to grow. His current work focuses on wave-turbine system technology, which has applications in the renewable clean energy sector.

“I view this work as contributing to a better life for people on our planet,” he said, “and I felt the same way when I founded Healy Systems.”

Healy filed his first patent application while at Northeastern and received it shortly after graduation. He got the idea for the patent—a new take on the standard crescent wrench, designed to allow stationary components to pivot—after getting tired of skinning his knuckles while rebuilding a 1939 Ford convertible in the driveway of his parents’ home in Medford, Massachusetts.

“Jim understands firsthand the transformative power of experience,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern. “He is committed to engineering education and trusts Northeastern to empower the next generation of leaders who will follow in his footsteps.”

Prior to studying at Northeastern, Healy served in the U.S. Army from 1946 to 1948. Following his military service, he took an aptitude test that pointed him toward a career in engineering or medicine. Healy, who grew up building airplane models and working with Erector Sets, naturally took the engineering track. He applied to a few Boston-area universities and ultimately chose Northeastern due in large part to its signature co-op program. He fondly recalled his first co-op at Armstrong Rubber Company in Connecticut, and to this day he still keeps in touch with his boss at the time.

He credited co-op for not only solidifying his interest in mechanical engineering, but also for allowing him to earn money as he learned on the job. “It made my education possible,” said Healy, whose latest gift will make that same dream possible for future Northeastern engineering students.

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