Joe Nelson—Engineered Products Co. Scholarship

The Joe Nelson—Engineered Products Co. Scholarship is open to high school and full-time students in a Power Technology program at Hawkeye. This scholarship is awarded on the basis of achievement, career plans, and goals.

Recipients of this scholarship may receive up to $1,000. Award funds are disbursed twice a year, in the fall and spring semesters. Recipients will receive $250 for the fall semester and $750 for the spring semester if they continue to meet scholarship eligibility requirements.

Eligibility Criteria

To Apply

A personal interview with potential recipients will be conducted to make the final selection.

A brief history of Joe Nelson

Joe Nelson, 1928–1984, was born and raised in Decorah, Iowa, the second youngest of 10 children.

After high school Joe served in the Air Force during WWII for a short time. After the war, being a "hands-on, mechanically-inclined" guy, he got his A & E Aircraft Mechanics Certificate from St. Louis School of Aeronautics in St. Louis, Missouri. He worked for two major airlines, first as a mechanic and then as a flight engineer.

Joe left aviation during a long Eastern Airlines strike and worked for Purolator and United Air Cleaner Manufacturing as a sales engineer, selling oil filter and air cleaner systems to farm tractor manufacturers in the Midwest. He saw the need for an air cleaner gauge that would progressively indicate the amount of element life used and the amount remaining. He saw that elements were prematurely serviced and thrown away on a time/mileage or "looks dirty" schedule, which shorted them of reaching their maximum efficiency in dirt-holding capacity. Over a period of two years, working off and on in his basement workshop, with minimal equipment and borrowed money, Joe developed the Filter Minder air cleaner gauge, patented it, tooled it, and put it into limited production.

Joe had a "better mousetrap" but "nobody beat a path to his door". He was a budding entrepreneur, stalled for lack of marketing.

In 1977, he teamed up with H. D. "Ike" Leighty, who had 30 years of experience in sales and marketing in automotive, farm, and construction equipment to original equipment manufacturers. They incorporated the entrepreneurship venture as Engineered Products Co. to develop and market the Filter Minder.

Since that time, the Filter Minder has become the standard in the heavy and medium truck industries for determining service intervals for air cleaners. The largest rental fleet in the world, using the Filter Minder since 1980, has reduced air cleaner costs and labor by 80%, a 15 to 1 payback. Ford, Chrysler, and GM introduced the Filter Minder into the huge Detroit automotive market. It has been installed in light trucks and vans. Filter Minder has completely revolutionized the way air cleaners are serviced: from a time, mileage or "looks dirty" basis to actual capacity used. In addition to cost-savings, society will have fewer partially used elements being thrown into already overburdened landfills.

The Joe Nelson—Engineered Products Co. Scholarship Fund has been established by Joe's wife, Fran Nelson, and former partner, Ike Leighty, with administrative support from Joe's former company, Engineered Products Co. The goal of the scholarship is to encourage and help other potential dreamers, thinkers, "hands-on" people like Joe Nelson, to pursue their training and education in the Power Technology field at Hawkeye Community College.

The community and economy needs more people like Joe Nelson who can innovate and make things happen. That is why this scholarship has been established.

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