April Hammond

A Lifetime WPI Journey

When WPI alumni say their years on the Hill were some of the best of their lives, they’re usually referring to the four years it took to earn their bachelor’s degree. But when April Hammond ’85, MS ’88 talks about her years spent with the university, it’s a much different story. Hammond’s WPI story begins during childhood as a professor’s daughter, travels through her collegiate years where she earned her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and graduate degree in fire protection engineering, continues into her professional career while she serves as an WPI Advisory Board member, and lands most recently as a generous philanthropic donor to the university.

“WPI gave me the tools to practice life successfully and to the fullest,” she says.

I wanted to give back to the community because WPI has been a home, a safe place, and the place where I acquired the education that has given me a wonderful profession, career, and life.

To honor her beloved parents, Hammond recently included WPI in her estate plans by creating the Fahire and Professor Thom Hammond Endowed FPE Graduate Support Fund. The endowment will provide financial resources to recruit or retain outstanding graduate students studying fire protection engineering. She established her philanthropic legacy at WPI with deep gratitude for her mother, Fahire Hammond, who gave up a law practice to raise her three children, and for her father, Professor Thom Hammond, who taught at WPI for 22 years, beginning in 1959. Professor Hammond regularly brought his young daughter to campus and encouraged her to earn a degree in fire protection engineering.

“I grew up at WPI. I did my homework under the stern but benevolent gaze of head librarian Mrs. [Bonnie Blanche] Schoonover in the old Alden Library, and I would get help with math problems from the WPI students,” says Hammond. “Campus was my playground: swimming in the pool, sledding down the old football field hill, peeking into Mrs. Higgins’s beautiful gardens, and checking out the shop where my dad often went to fix a lawn mower or a part for his car.”

As a specialist in fire protection engineering, loss prevention, codes and standards, environmental site assessments, spill clean-up, and regulatory compliance, Hammond has, by all accounts, experienced a remarkable career. And ever mindful of the foundation for her success, she was compelled to give back to WPI for all it provided her.

“My father was a mechanical engineer who was an ardent supporter of the FPE program,” she says, “and the faculty members who developed it, such as professors Robert Fitzgerald, Donald Zwiep, and David Lucht; my heart is in supporting the continued success of WPI, its FPE program, and its students.”

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