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Higher Education
University of Houston-Clear Lake
News Release
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Retired software engineer’s gifts fund UHCL and UH endowments

HOUSTON – Mallik Putcha, a software engineer who recently retired after a 30-year career in the aerospace industry, is a big believer in education, as evidenced by his four graduate degrees. He’s also a big believer in supporting those who supported him in his education and career. And when you can’t pay it back, you pay it forward. To that end, his family trust has donated $50,000 to the University of Houston-Clear Lake to help future students reach their own career goals.

The $50,000 was part of the alumnus’ $150,000 pledge payments to the University of Houston System. The remaining $100,000 will fund three other endowments: two in the UH Cullen College of Engineering for a total of $75,000, and one in the UH Bauer College of Business for $25,000. Last fall, Putcha gave the UH College of Pharmacy an additional $50,000 to establish an endowment in honor of his wife, Vasanta Lakshmi Putcha, who was chief pharmacologist at NASA Johnson Space Center. She died in 2015.

Putcha said he used proceeds from his wife’s life insurance to fund the endowments in fulfillment of promises they made to each other.

“I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination. But I said I’d give back to the people who educated us,” he said. “We are who we are because of the education we received, thanks to the institutions and the professors who taught us. They are the ones who gave us critical thinking skills and analytical thinking skills to do whatever we wanted to do in life.”

His UHCL check will be added to the Charles McKay Software Engineering Scholarship Endowment, which was initially established by McKay’s son, Chris. McKay is professor emeritus and retired dean of what is now the College of Science and Engineering. 

Putcha credited McKay’s counsel and guidance for his successful career. While endowments are often named in memory of someone, Putcha said he would rather honor someone while he or she was still alive.

“I’m so greatly honored,” said McKay, a charter faculty member who joined the university when it first opened in 1974. “I’m in humbled shock.”

He told his former student that “helping others learn to love learning as much as you do” was honor enough.

“That’s more reward than any human being has any right to hope for,” said McKay. “It never once occurred to me that there’d be a moment such as this.”

“There are many dimensions to your gift,” UHCL President William A. Staples told Putcha. “From honoring professors to helping students – and setting an example for others. ‘Thank you’ is not adequate, but we truly thank you.”

Putcha has a master’s degree in software engineering from UHCL, an MBA and master’s in electrical engineering from UH and a master’s in advanced electronics from the Indian Institute of Technology. He retired from Cimarron Software after working with Boeing Defense and Space, IBM and Ford Aerospace on NASA projects.

To find out more about honoring someone through the gift of a scholarship at UHCL, call the Office of University Advancement, 281-283-2025, or email

Pictured: Retired software engineer Mallik Putcha, center, presents a $150,000 check from his family trust to fund four endowments in the University of Houston System, including a $50,000 gift in support of the Charles McKay Software Engineering Scholarship Endowment at UH-Clear Lake. McKay, left, is retired dean of what is now the College of Science and Engineering and one of the educators Putcha credits with his career success. Pictured with Putcha and McKay is UHCL President William A. Staples.


Remembering Jim Guidry

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