Steve Martin

He Dares to Dream

Group of Indigenous UND students receive an opportunity to travel and expand their horizons thanks to an ambitious alum. 

Since he was a child, Steve Martin, ’89, has dreamed of becoming many things: a mechanical engineer, an entrepreneur and a philanthropist to his community. Thanks to a lot of hard work and his time at the University of North Dakota, Steve has achieved those dreams. As a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians with over 28 years of energy project experience, he now feels equipped to help Native American students at UND fulfill their dreams.

After becoming a mechanical engineer, Steve spent 11 years working for GE Energy in Central and Eastern Europe, developing and executing strategic plans for all GE Energy profit centers across 19 countries.

In 2008, he pursued his dream of becoming an entrepreneur and co-founded KS Energy in Botswana and Nigeria, Africa, now one of the fastest-growing African energy companies on the continent.

In 2018, after more than two decades working and living in Africa, Steve had an idea.

“I wanted to help an Indigenous kid from North Dakota who had knowledge in engineering and lead them off the beaten path where they could experience the similarities and differences between cultures in Africa,” he said.

Steve worked with UND’s College of Engineering & Mines to establish a cultural exchange internship for three Native American engineering students. While they gained valuable career experience and were immersed in African culture, he covered their travel and living expenses.

Steve still mentors all three students and plans to continue the program to give unique opportunities to more Indigenous students. His biggest dream is to use his knowledge and resources to help students learn from a different perspective and encourage them to take chances throughout their career.

“When I’m gone, I want to be remembered as a leader who taught people to be open minded, dream big and make decisions that benefit communities and people,” Steve said.


There are many ways for you to leave a legacy at UND and provide opportunities for students to gain valuable life experiences. Your gifts can build a better future for UND and its students.