Legacy Award honors Ralph and Doreen Boy

Doreen and Ralph Boy

Doreen and Ralph Boy / Marc Studer photo 

By Douglas Esser 
Ralph Boy has been supporting the University of Washington Bothell's School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics since before there was a School of STEM, and he hasn't stopped. 

In 2009, Boy wrote a letter to a state higher education board to champion an electrical engineering program, which became part of the School of STEM when it was established in 2013. Boy sponsors capstone projects for engineering students. And in 2017, Boy and his wife, Doreen, started the Doreen and Ralph Boy Endowed STEM Undergraduate Scholarship.  

The idea for the endowment initially is to provide “get over the hump” scholarships to help students stay in school. Eventually the Boys hope to have more than $1 million in the fund to sustain full scholarships, at the discretion of the STEM dean. 

In recognition of their service, philanthropy and inspiration, Chancellor Wolf Yeigh selected the Boys for the 2018 UW Bothell Legacy Award, the highest award for donors and supporters. The Boys were honored at the annual Chancellor’s Reception May 4 at the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland, Washington.  

“We’re just doing a small part,” Doreen Boy said. Costly textbooks and unexpected bills are the kind of expenses that could force a student to miss a quarter — and not make it back, she said.  

“Those are the little things that will keep you from finishing school,” she said, adding their scholarship could be “that little extra that gets you over the hump.” 

“Sometimes, students fall short by $1,000 or $2,000,” Ralph Boy said. “We’re of humble means, but that’s actually something we can do.” 

Boy was an electrical engineer for Boeing for 37 years, retiring in 2015. He was a technical fellow, a level selected for his knowledge, expertise and impact across the company. His work included avionics, electrical systems and designing video systems for the 747 and 767.  

Very much education oriented, the Boys have “adopted” UW Bothell and encourage others to think about setting up an endowment or joining their fund. 

“Both of us have found it very rewarding, working with students and staff at UW Bothell,” Doreen Boy said. 

“I think that when we were in a position to give back in a more generous way, we became richer,” Ralph Boy said. 

Julia Shagdai (electrical engineering ’13) was one of Boy’s capstone students. Under his mentorship, she helped develop an automatic cable tester and grew her technical skills. 

“He did his best to guide us toward building the final product. He didn’t hand the answers to us. He let us explore. He let us find our own answers to the problem,” she said. “All that time he was right next to us, watching over us.” 

Shagdai is now an electrical engineer at Astronics, an aerospace company in Kirkland, where some interns from UW Bothell start their careers. She seconds the legacy honor for the Boys. 

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving than they are,” Shagdai said. “They’ve been great mentors, great friends throughout the years, and I’m looking forward to more of their accomplishments in the future.”