About the John Gray Scholarship


At IDEA'S 100th Annual Conference & Trade Show in Crystal City, Virginia, June 29, 2009, IDEA President Robert Thornton announced the establishment of the John Gray Scholarship Program. IDEA launched the Scholarship with initial funding of $10,000 from its 2009 Expense budget.

"The objective of this Scholarship is to attract and retain individuals wishing to pursue knowledge about energy in general and about district energy specifically," said Thornton.

John Gray with his famous apple peeler.
Former IDEA Chair John Gray with his famous antique apple peeler.

A Scholarship Committee was formed utilizing the IDEA Prior Chairs Committee. Former IDEA President Steven Swinson of Thermal Energy Corporation (TECO) was appointed the Designated Permanent Chair of the Scholarship Committee. The Scholarship Committee determines the legal structure of the organization of the Scholarship, set applicant criteria, determine the number and size of the award and also select the annual scholarship winner(s). Revenue from the Scholarship funds will not be used by IDEA for any other purpose. Oversight for the management of the fund and scholarship process will be performed entirely by the Scholarship Committee to create clear separation between IDEA management and the fund.

The Scholarship fund will be sustained by including a designated expense charge within the cost of all meeting registrations and possibly by alternative approaches, to be determined by the Committee. The Committee plans to promote the funding of the Scholarship by soliciting an initial contribution from IDEA members. Each contributor will have the option of specifying that its charitable contribution funding receive public recognition within the John Gray Scholarship Program umbrella, as for example, the ABC Company Scholarship created under the John Gray Scholarship Program.

Scholarship funds will be restricted to individuals pursuing an enhancement of knowledge of district energy either through the educational opportunities at IDEA meetings or through educational programs at four-year universities in management, engineering, finance or energy, or at two-year community colleges that offer an Associates Degree in power engineering. The scholarship will be offered to all IDEA member employees and their children.

Award Categories

John Gray Scholarship eligibility includes the following four candidate categories:

  • First-time IDEA meeting attendance for employees of member organizations or as designated by the Member to attend a conference.
  • Continuing education financial assistance for Members' children.
  • Education financial assistance for employees of member organizations who are seeking to upgrade their professional expertise and qualifications, including Bachelor or Associate Degree programs with accredited institutions. Education financial assistance offered to low-income persons as a means of attracting them to the district energy industry.
  • Education financial assistance offered to low-income persons as a means of attracting them to the district energy industry.

To apply for the 2017 John Gray Scholarship, download and save this Application Form. Then open and complete the form, and return it with the other materials as directed on the form.

Questions? Contact: idea@districtenergy.org

To make a donation to the John Gray Scholarship Fund please contact Cheryl Jacques at cheryl.idea@districtenergy.org; +508-366-9339.

About John A. Gray

The best way to appreciate John A. Gray is to watch and listen to him in action.
Please CLICK on the arrow to watch video clips of John A. Gray addressing recent International District Energy Association (IDEA) conferences. Watch and listen as John demonstrates his skill on the podium as a master of rollicking and poignant commentary as well as inspiring and visionary leadership.

John Gray was a world-class scientist and engineer with a distinguished career as a chemist. His career began in January 1949 when he joined Dearborn Chemical as a laboratory technician; he retired as senior vice-president in 1994. He was selected in 2003 by the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) as an accomplished, 50-year contributor to the chemical profession. In 1994, he formed a corrosion consulting firm, John Gray & Associates, and served as senior water conditioning consultant for GE Betz in Trevose, PA.

John served as President of IDEA in 1991 and also served as a member of its Board of Directors. He was a beloved and regular attendee of IDEA conferences since 1967.

John presented many technical papers on industrial water conditioning in Canada, the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia. He is a member of the National Association of Corrosion Engineers and holds patents on his boiler sludge conditioner, a closed water corrosion inhibitor and a neutral pH, non-corrosive rust remover. He was awarded the prestigious Norman R. Taylor award by IDEA in 1994 for his distinguished achievements in district energy.

At the 2004 IDEA Annual Conference, John poignantly stated,

"District energy is not just about a single power plant supplying products and services to their clients, but rather since 1909, we have been part of a unique interdependent family of district energy plants around the world that rely on each other to provide the most effective, efficient, dependable and economical energy that is available to our customers."

John Gray Scholarship Award Winners


Marco Musto

Tyler Riemer



Kristen Boscarino


Nathan Griffin

Brenna Manning


David Macmillan

Brendan Urke


Ryerson Lehman-Borer


Brad Bradford

Michelle Parks

David Rulff


Fletcher Beaudoin

Matthew Nyquist

Remembering John

Click for larger size.
Click for larger size.

Our friend and colleague John Gray passed away on November 10, 2015.  

For nearly 50 years, John attended the IDEA Annual Conference and greatly enjoyed taking the podium to offer the invocation, regaling all with his trademark wit and humility.  He is sorely missed by his immediate family and by an even larger IDEA family, including the many hundreds of people he touched over the years with his deep technical expertise, genuine kindness and abundant good humor.  John believed passionately in the importance of the IDEA community and was committed to lifelong learning. 

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