Giving at the NAE

Private support enhances our capacity to be a public voice for engineering.

  • Radka Z. Nebesky
    Director of Development
    National Academy of Engineering
    2101 Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC 20418

Donor Spotlight

Asad Madni and Taj

ASAD M. MADNI (NAE '11) has more than 40 years of engineering experience that includes pioneering contributions to projects such as the Hubble Telescope’s Extremely Slow-Motion Servo Control System, providing unprecedented accuracy and stability that resulted in remarkable images that have enhanced our understanding of the universe.  Since his retirement in 2006 as the President/ COO/CTO of BEI Technologies Inc., he has been an independent consultant and a distinguished adjunct professor at UCLA, guiding doctoral research, mentoring students, inspiring the next generation of engineers, and bringing an awareness of the NAE Grand Challenges to university, community college and high school students.

At his NAE induction ceremony in 2011, Dr. Madni was struck by the importance of discretionary financial resources to assure the independence of NAE’s voice on national policy.  He also wishes to advance our work to increase the number, quality, and diversity of U.S. engineering graduates and to advance our national capacity for 21st century innovation and global competitiveness.

Dr. Madni reflects that, “a professionally successful career that does not include philanthropy is an incomplete and unsatisfying one and I never forget that achieving this privilege in my profession makes it incumbent upon me and my family to give back and help guide the generation following us.” Since his induction as an NAE member in 2011, Dr. Madni and his family have sponsored two member giving challenges that have generated more than $450,000 for the NAE.  He and his wife have also decided to include the NAE in his estate plans and established an annuity to provide long lasting support to the Academy.

To read our entire interview with Dr. Madni, click here


ROBERT BRISKMAN (NAE ’14) and wife Lenore, are hard at work in the engineering community. The latest challenge for Rob, a renowned pioneer in satellite communications and co-founder of Sirius XM Radio, is finding ways to protect satellites from orbital debris. And Lenore continues to manage American Classic Clothes, a successful children's clothing corporation that she launched almost three decades ago.

Even so, Rob and Lenore found time to plan for the future, and they've designated the National Academy of Engineering as a beneficiary to their estate. "The NAE – and the Academies – provide good, sound advice on some very important issues, and the government certainly needs it. If you're looking for an organization whose work will help your kids, grandkids, and others, it's important to support the Academies' efforts." 

"There is very little that we do in life that doesn't require engineering," added Lenore. "That is why it's important for NAE to foster the profession and provide proper guidance." 

Rob was elected to the NAE just a year ago, so both he and Lenore are excited about getting involved in other ways too. Although Rob has received many awards and professional honors, his NAE membership is in a different class. "The NAE is a working organization that tries to improve things. So being elected is special."

Dan BergDANIEL BERG (NAE ’76) has long been an active member and generous supporter of the National Academy of Engineering.  This year marks Dan’s 40th anniversary as a member, and to celebrate he and his wife FRAN are  “giving big” and joining the ranks of the Academies’ Einstein Society – whose members’ cumulative lifetime giving is $100,000 or more.  In addition, they have joined the Academies’ Heritage Society by naming the NAE as a beneficiary of their estate.

“As a professional, NAE has made an enormous impact on me. This is an opportune time to do something bigger,” Berg explained.  “I’ve been hoping to become an Einstein member.  I thought this would be a nice time to recognize the organization’s meaning to us, and what NAE does --not only for the country, but for the world.”

Berg mentioned, over the years, NAE has provided countless opportunities that helped him advance professionally. A former president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he first encountered his predecessor in that position, George Low, at the NAE.  “He gave a talk when he won the Founders Award (renamed the Simon Ramo Founders Award in 2012). Although they didn’t meet then, “a couple of years later, he hired me as provost. I truly believe NAE has helped me in my career – not only through the connections I’ve made but also by broadening my scope and getting me involved in new things.” 

“Even more important,” the Bergs say, “is the opportunity to support the NAE’s work. For a relatively small budget, NAE’s impact is incredible.  Dollar for dollar, it’s a very high return on your investment.  It’s an organization that provides advice that is grounded in study and analysis. The goal is to do the right thing for society.” 

George and Virginia BugliarelloGEORGE BUGLIARELLO ('87), and his widow, VIRGINIA, have always valued education. George, who died in 2011, spent most of his long and distinguished career in academia, first as dean of engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago and then as president and chancellor of Polytechnic Institute of New York University. And Virginia, who recently retired after serving 40 years as a librarian at the Port Washington, N.Y. public library, is a committed volunteer for an adult literacy program.

So it seemed fitting to Virginia to honor George’s memory by making a generous gift to the National Academy of Engineering’s Engineer Girl program, dedicated to encouraging girls and young women to become engineers.

In the early 70s, George organized a symposium when he was at the University of Illinois that was one of the first efforts in encouraging women to go into engineering,” Virginia said. “This gift to Engineer Girl felt perfect.”

The gift also recognizes George’s decades of service to the NAE. He was NAE’s foreign secretary from 2003 to 2011, the “interim” editor of the Bridge for more than 10 years, and a member of dozens of committees. “He was always involved because the NAE meant a lot to him. And by osmosis, it means a lot to me.”

Ken XieKEN XIE, class of 2013, attended his first NAE activity in March 2013 - the NAE Regional Meeting at Stanford. During this meeting, vice president Maxine Savitz remarked on the importance of philanthropy to NAE’s work. Shortly thereafter, Ken Xie decided to direct a $100,000 gift from the Xie Foundation in support of the NAE Independent Fund, which provides NAE with the critical resources necessary to enhance engineering’s position in the U.S. and around the world.

When asked why it was important to him to support NAE early in his membership, Mr. Xie replied: "The Academy is uniquely positioned to bring awareness to the great potential of engineering. At a time when it will take creative thinking to maintain American competitiveness and address global problems, I want to make sure NAE has the resources to build strong relationships and to educate government leaders and the public.”

Mr. Xie, founder and CEO of Fortinet, a publicly traded company that specializes in cybersecurity, was elected for “contributions to cybersecurity, including network security systems and services.”

In 2012, over 600 NAE members gave $1.5 million to the Independent Fund, a sizeable increase over the previous year. Mr. Xie’s generosity, and that of other NAE members, can help NAE maintain the growth of this vital fund, giving the Academy more opportunities to advocate for engineering to be part of the solution to global challenges.

Trevor O. JonesTREVOR O. JONES was elected to NAE in 1982 for his leadership in the application of electronics to the automobile to enhance its mechanical performance. Since then, he has participated in studies on topics including biological warfare, automotive fuel economy, nuclear regulatory management, aerospace, military systems, and deep sea oil drilling. Mr. Jones also chaired the “2020 Energy Vision” Regional Meeting in Cleveland, OH in 2006, a meeting that drew over 1,300 attendees and 1,000 viewers via webcast.

“The National Academy of Engineering, as part of the National Academies, provides unimpeachable, unbiased views and recommendations on vital and strategic technological issues of national importance. It is therefore incumbent upon all professional engineers, particularly NAE members, to fully support NAE’s participation in these endeavors.”

Mr. Jones has been a generous donor to the NAE for over two decades. He says that he supports the NAE because, as an engineer, he feels a sense of responsibility to support an organization that plays such a unique and nationally important role.

"Being an NAE member provides an unparalleled opportunity to participate in major, advanced technological studies. Such participation provides NAE members the opportunity to interface with a very broad spectrum of expertise in a wide variety of university, government, and industry research organizations. The impact of this career building experience is extremely rewarding and unattainable outside of the NAE.”