Strasburg student was awarded the prestigious $50,000 Henry Timken Scholar Award. Austin Eckhardt was chosen from a worldwide pool of applicants.
Austin Eckhardt had an unexpected meeting with Ward J. “Tim” Timken Jr. Thursday morning and walked away with a check for $50,000.
The 18-year-old Strasburg Franklin High School senior thought he was attending a school assembly to recognize his class’ top 10 students when the Timken Co.’s chairman took to the stage to present Eckhardt with the prestigious Henry Timken Scholar Award.
The merit-based scholarship is renewable for three additional years, potentially making it a $200,000 windfall.
On Thursday, the company awarded scholarships to 38 children of its employees in six countries. The Timken Co. Charitable and Educational Fund has awarded more than $20 million in scholarships since 1958.
Eckhardt is the son of Ed and Kerry Eckhardt. Kerry is a global business readiness leader in information technology at Timken’s Canton office.
Timken told Eckhardt he is investing in the next generation of community leaders.
“Keep it up,” Timken told the 4.0 student. “I always keep an eye on my investments.”
After the presentation, Eckhardt hugged his parents and said he was astonished.
He plans to attend Grove City College to study mechanical engineering. He may continue to play golf, as he does in high school, but wants to focus on his education.
He said he had filled out at least 20 scholarship applications.
“I was going to fill out at least 10 more, but now I don’t have to,” he said happily.
His parents were beaming with pride over their son’s accomplishments.
“I wanted to pass out. It’s extremely emotional,” said Kerry Eckhardt.
Her husband added, “We sit back in amazement and watch what he has done.”
Timken later said that awarding the scholarship in person is one of the best parts of his job.
“It’s fun to walk into Strasburg, Ohio, and really change someone’s life,” he said.
Later in the day, Timken representative Tom Moline showed up in Luke Ince’s chemistry class at Alliance High School and surprised him with a $10,000 scholarship, which is renewable for three additional years.
Ince, a 4.0 GPA student who plays for his high school baseball team, was overwhelmed and said he had not expected to win.
Ince is the son of William and Judi Ince. William Ince works as an electrical maintainer in Canton’s Gambrinus plant.
He put his father on speaker phone to tell him the news.
William Ince’s exclamation of, “Oh excellent!” drew laughter from the class.
Luke Ince said he will study petroleum engineering at Marietta College in the fall, a field he said always reinvents itself and gives him the potential to be “a big help to the world.”
“I’ve been trying to figure out every day how I’d pay for it,” he said with a big smile.