Carson Drake wants students at Fairmont State University to know that they can make a difference in the world—socially, technically and spiritually.
Drake, a Braxton County native who graduated from Fairmont State in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering Technology, has established the Carson B. Drake Engineering Scholarship, which will support students from Braxton County who have financial need and are enrolled in Computer Science and Computer Security; Electronics Engineering Technology; or Mechanical Engineering Technology. The endowment will last in perpetuity and fund two students per year for four years if they maintain a 2.8 grade point average.
“The Fairmont State program was perfect for me,” Drake said. “It was not too big like the large universities where you can get lost, and it was very practical and hands-on rather than largely theoretical. I was immediately able to take what I learned at Fairmont State and apply it in the field in manufacturing facilities all over North America.”
Drake grew up in Wilsie, a small town in Braxton County, and he wants students at Fairmont State to know that they should not limit themselves.
“I came from the same place as many of them,” Drake said. “They can make a huge impact. They may not see it right now, but Fairmont State has prepared them to go out into this world and change lives.”
Through leadership gifts like Drake’s, Fairmont State Foundation’s Every Gift Matters—The Scholarship Campaign has now raised over $2 million, surpassing the $1.3 million goal set in November. Aimed at closing the two- and four-year scholarship gap, the campaign celebrates the ability of every gift to impact the lives of Fairmont State students.
“On behalf of the entire Falcon Family, I want to say thank you to Carson Drake for this leadership gift,” said Fairmont State President Mirta M. Martin. “Carson has shown all current and future Falcons the power of a Fairmont State degree and the doors that an education opens.”
As an entrepreneur, Drake built his career focusing on industrial automation. He is also co-founder and vice president of Gray Matter Systems, a Pennsylvania company that transforms manufacturing companies into technology companies that create new revenue, boost the economy and revitalize cities. The company focuses on co-innovation and curating the best process and technology to drive industrial companies and utilities through digital transformation.
Drake said he wants students to understand that manufacturing is alive, well and interesting in the United States. Beyond his philanthropic support, he will also be getting further involved with the Fairmont State students.
“I will be taking them to manufacturing plants in the tri-state area so they can see first-hand how interesting and what a great career there is in manufacturing,” he said. “Production automation, ‘internet of things’, the data cloud and the combination of hardware (Electronics Engineering Technology), software (Computer Science and Cyber Security), and physical (Mechanical Engineering Technology) makes a huge difference in people’s lives on an everyday basis.”
“We are thankful for Carson’s interest in not only providing our students with funding to attend Fairmont State but also his dedication to the students and interest in becoming more engaged in our programs,” said Steven Roof, interim dean of the College of Science and Technology. “Carson is giving back his time, talent and treasure, which is inspiring and appreciated.”
Drake said he is very excited about the scholarship and becoming more engaged with Fairmont State University and its students.
“I am so proud of what Fairmont State University has become,” he said.
Drake wants to bring positive change to keep the ball rolling and help Fairmont State continue to improve. He hopes to help students find internships in manufacturing companies throughout the region by leveraging contacts he’s made over the years.
“This scholarship gift is intended to help students from my home county of Braxton and also increase participation in Electronics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Computer Science & Cyber Security. These are skills that the manufacturing industries need.”
His passion for Fairmont State is driven by his interest in the students.
“I look at them and I see me in 1986. They are just looking for a chance, and they don’t know what they don’t know yet."
Drake is married to Elizabeth Carr Drake, also from Braxton County, and they have six children—four girls and two boys.
Drake’s gift was made through the Fairmont State Foundation Inc., the non-profit organization that solicits and administers private donations on behalf of the Fairmont State University.