Essex Hall exteriorStudents are seen outside Essex Hall in this 1980 file photo.

Former prof helps faculty attract leading graduate students through fellowship

It started off as a challenge posed by a dentist who just happened to be his brother.

Ralph and his colleagues weren’t happy with the dental filling materials available to them in 1958. The material was hard to work with and often failed, sending cavity-stricken patients back to their chairs for a replacement.

“Ralph's challenge was to develop a better filling material and I accepted, thinking that there was no one better suited to study the amalgam’s shortcomings and improve or replace it with something better, than a metallurgist like myself,” says William Youdelis, who taught materials engineering at the University of Windsor from 1965 to 1996.

William YoudelisDr. Youdelis’s solution, called Dispersalloy, not only outlived and outperformed conventional amalgam fillings, it was sold to Johnson & Johnson to meet the increased demands of the U.S. and European markets. In 1993, the Academy of Operative Dentistry recognized his contribution with a Hollenback Memorial Prize, making him the second Canadian at that time to win.

“When reflecting on my own successes, I realized the critical role played by my PhD studies and decided that I’d like to make a gift to the University of Windsor to support graduate students,” Youdelis says about establishing a fellowship with a $300,000 donation through a stock securities transfer.

The Dr. William V. Youdelis PhD Fellowship in Engineering will aid the university in recruiting and supporting top engineering doctoral candidates over the next decade. The $11,111 annual scholarships will be given based on academic excellence across all engineering fields.

“PhD study in engineering is long and challenging and to be successful, requires one’s total concentration and confidence. Carrying financial difficulties has ended many promising careers,” Youdelis says, reflecting on his own financial struggles as a student and witnessing talented colleagues cut their academic careers short due to a lack of funds.

While completing his graduate studies in metallurgical engineering at McGill University, Youdelis was awarded the Aluminium Laboratories Fellowship, which covered the costs of his academic fees and living expenses throughout his PhD journey. He says this allowed him to apply himself fully to his studies and research.

Youdelis was instrumental in launching the faculty’s materials engineering program and in 1992, he helped the university land its first Industrial Research Chair. The Ford/NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Light Metals Casting Technology included a $1 million, five-year grant to improve aluminum base alloys that were critical to auto manufacturing. Professor Jerry Sokolowski led the grant, which was renewed for another five years by Ford thanks to his success in overcoming challenges with casting larger engine blocks for the automaker’s new and heavier truck.

“William was a driven researcher who always looked for ways to apply his work in the real world,” says Nihar Biswas, a former senior associate dean of engineering research and current environmental engineering professor who worked with Youdelis in the 1990s.

In 2002, Youdelis received the Canadian Metal Physics Award. He even collaborated with NASA scientists on materials processing in space research, which led him to a position on the Canadian Space’s Physical Science Advisory Committee.

“In my teaching practice, I would relate the subject matter of my lectures to my research projects whenever possible and I saw that this excited and inspired the students,” he says.

The Dr. William V. Youdelis PhD Fellowship is renewable and intended to fund each student for the first three years of their program. All applications to the PhD program will be considered based on academic excellence, including review of published research papers in international journals and conferences. Students will be selected by a faculty committee and do not need to apply.

Charitable gifts of publicly traded securities include shares, bonds, mutual funds, and interest in a related segregated fund trust or a prescribed debt obligation. The University of Windsor provides tax receipts for the full appreciated value of a donation of publicly traded securities, which are not subject to capital gains tax.

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—Kristie Pearce

This article was featured in the latest issue of WE, the Faculty of Engineering’s annual magazine. To receive WE and UWindsor Engineering’s quarterly e-newsletters, join the faculty’s mailing list.