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University of Wyoming Foundation

Donor Stories

Supporting Future Petroleum Engineers


Max CastagneMax Castagne’s slide rule rests proudly on a shelf in College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Rob Ettema’s office. But that’s not the only thing Max bequeathed to his beloved alma mater—he also left a significant portion of his estate, which will leave its mark on future generations of engineers.  

“A very fine gentleman,” says Dean Ettema.  “Very independent. He was proud of his career and his education and very interested to support our programs here. We are very appreciative of that.”

Threefold Impact

Max wanted to create a research and technology endowment that would enhance the college’s capabilities, particularly in the fields of mechanical, petroleum, and computer engineering. To encompass his wishes, three endowments were created.

  • The A.J. “Max” Castagne Endowment for Engineering, which will be used as scholarships for engineering graduate students.
  • The A.J. “Max” Castagne Professors in Mechanical, Petroleum, and Computer Science Departments in Engineering, which will provide support for professorships in the three departments.
  • The A.J. “Max” Castagne Endowment for Mechanical, Petroleum, and Computer Science Departments in Engineering, which will support research and advanced studies in these three departments.

“His gift will substantially help the university deliver nationally attractive programs of education, especially in the endowment’s designated areas of mechanical engineering, petroleum engineering, and computer science,” says Dean Ettema.

An Eminent Engineer

Max CastagneMax was born in Red Lodge, Montana, in 1917, the fourth son of Joseph and Josephine Castagne.  Growing up, he worked on the family’s ranches and in their local meat business. He graduated from Carbon County High School and went on to receive his B.S. in mechanical engineering from UW in 1943.

Max worked briefly for Boeing Aircraft Co. before joining the U.S. Army Air Corps to perform maintenance on AT-6 and B-25 aircraft, first in California and then in the South Pacific. He was discharged as a 1st Lieutenant.

Max returned to engineering, working for plastics manufacturer Bakelite Corp. and Westinghouse Electric Corp., where he worked on aircraft engines and then on power plant engineering in Pennsylvania and Washington. He retired to Montana where, at age 88, he cared for his 98-year-old brother.

Throughout his life, he maintained an active interest in engineering and liked to discuss with faculty topics such as energy technology, aviation, nuclear engineering, and what types of research UW was pursuing.  

“A.J. Max Castagne’s accomplishments as an eminent mechanical engineer engaged in the design of aircraft engines and nuclear power plants illustrate the rewarding career possibilities open to students entering the University of Wyoming’s programs of engineering education,” says Dean Ettema.


Top: UW College of Engineering and Applied Science students working on a project (courtesy UW Photo Service)

Bottom: Max Castagne

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