Office of the Dean
Phone: (208) 885-6470
Fax: (208) 885-6645
Janssen Engineering (JEB)
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1011
Moscow, ID 83844-1011
Contact Denise Engebrecht
Phone: (208) 364-6123
Fax: (208) 364-3160
Idaho Water Center
322 E. Front Street
Boise, ID 83702
Contact Debbie Caudle
Phone: (208) 282-7983
Fax: (208) 282-7929
1776 Science Center Drive, Suite 306
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402
Avista Endows a Scholarship to Honor Engineering Icon
As a boy, he worked a horse-drawn cultivator, the handles of which were almost as tall as he was. With no electrical service to the family farm, Satre witnessed the effort his mother exerted in doing the household chores. He could also see that electricity could save his mother much effort. And he was motivated to create change.
Satre graduated from the University of Idaho in 1939, the first in his family to receive a college education. He immediately began his 46-year career with Avista (formerly called Washington Water Power).
Satre moved through a number of positions in engineering, construction and operations. He served as an operating engineer on the licensing and construction of Cabinet Gorge Dam. When the dam was completed in 1952, Satre was promoted to superintendent of production, maintenance and construction, and soon after was named manager of construction and maintenance. In 1963, Satre became executive assistant to the president, executive vice president in 1965 and president in 1971. He went on to be chief executive officer and chairman of the board from 1975 until his retirement in 1985.
“Wendell was an engineering icon in the power industry," says Don Blackketter, dean of the College of Engineering.
A visionary leader, he had a keen eye for issues of the future. In a speech he gave in 1983 on the 25th anniversary of Avista's Kettle Falls Generating Plant, he reminded the crowd, "The issue today is not a choice between conservation, coal, nuclear, renewable or all other forms of generation, but rather it's the need to use all of them when practical... If we fail to plan and build today, tomorrow could be too late."
His statement in the context of renewable energy generation is still true. It took courage to build the first wood waste plant made solely for the purpose of generating electricity. It had never been done before. At the outset, people didn't think it could be done. But Satre had a vision and saw the potential.
Because of his significant work with Avista and the power industry, Satre was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree from the University in 1978, and inducted in the University's Alumni Hall of Fame as the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus in 2009. Satre also was a past member of the University of Idaho Foundation Board of Directors.
Satre passed away on Nov. 19, 2010. In honor of its esteemed leader, Avista Corp. recently made a gift of $35,000 to the University to establish the Wendell J. Satre Endowed Scholarship in Electrical Engineering.
"This endowed scholarship from Avista shows appreciation for his engineering legacy. It will truly enhance our ability to educate outstanding engineers in the future. The college is truly appreciative for Avista honoring Wendell in this way,” says Blackketter.
President Duane Nellis echoed that sentiment, “Leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship are characteristics of University of Idaho alumni, which truly were reflected in Wendell Satre’s life. He was a visionary leader for Avista and the community."
“Never satisfied with the status quo, he had a passion to create beneficial change that impacted many in Spokane and around the region," Nellis notes. "We appreciate the generosity of Avista, which will perpetuate his legacy and help our engineering students follow in his footsteps.”
The scholarship is in addition to the current Avista Scholars program at the Idaho, which provides four to six awards each year to students studying electrical engineering.
Wendell Satre's Career at Avista:
This endowed scholarship from Avista shows appreciation for his engineering legacy. It will truly enhance our ability to educate outstanding engineers in the future.
The college is truly appreciative for Avista honoring Wendell in this way.”
- Dean Don Blackketter