Dr. August Freda. Photo courtesy Pitt-Bradford.

Pitt-Bradford Scholarship Endowed in Memory of Late “Doc Freda”

April 30, 2024

BRADFORD, Pa. – Former students and friends of Dr. August Freda, late engineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, have endowed a scholarship in memory of their friend and mentor.

A couple of years ago, Ralph Bailey ’67-’69 and Elaine Northrup ’68-’69 got the ball rolling on the Dr. August (Augie) Robert Freda Memorial Scholarship Fund. While Freda, known to his colleagues as “Augie” and his students as “Doc Freda,” was best known as an engineering professor, he also founded the computer science program at Pitt-Bradford, which is where Corey Clinger ’77-’79 met him. Clinger read about the scholarship in the university’s alumni magazine, Portraits, and decided to also contribute.

As one of a dozen students in Freda’s computer science class, Clinger developed his early enthusiasm for computer science that would lead to a four-decade career at the legendary Bell Labs and its descendants and Ericsson, a Swedish telecommunications company.

“He knew how to push and how to encourage,” Clinger said. “He would push us to learn things – subtle pushes that made me a much better student. He helped me learn I was capable of more than good enough work. I wanted to recognize him because he got me started.”

The way he chose to recognize Freda was through a scholarship. “I could afford to come to Pitt-Bradford … because of scholarships,” Clinger said.

A gifted metallurgist, Freda came to the University of Pittsburgh in 1957 after earning his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Notre Dame university. After 10 years of teaching in Pittsburgh, he made the leap to the Bradford campus and its fledgling two-year engineering program, which gave students foundational courses and helped them decide what kind of engineering they wanted to make their specialty.

As the go-to technical-minded professor on the faculty of early Pitt Bradford, he became interested in early computers and became the director of not only engineering but also a computer science program.

In 1969 the campus obtained an IBM 1130 in partnership with McKean County, which shared time on the machine with the campus. Frieda organized one-day computer management seminars for local government officials, business executives, and school administrators. He started a two-year certificate for electronic data processing that became the basis of all future computer science options.

Later when the petroleum industry requested a program in petroleum engineering technology, Freda took on that as well and directed that program.

Before the university hired more faculty, he managed these programs himself and taught classes in early computer programming languages and surveying for petroleum technology, not to mention astronomy, all while teaching, redesigning, and stabilizing the engineering program.

In addition to his crucial role in the university’s development, Freda and his wife, Vicki, were legendary for their interactions with and fondness for students.

Engineering alumnus Dr. Brandon Chavel ’95-’97 said, “He made it comfortable. He encouraged us to work together as students. That’s what we do in the industry. Unknowingly, we learned to work as a team.”

This spring, the first Freda scholarship was awarded to Abigail Goss, a sophomore criminal justice major from Commodore.

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