Valpo faculty are more than teachers — they are mentors, motivators, role models, leaders, practitioners, and people of faith whose work advances their disciplines as it elevates the lives of their students. Each Valpo graduate can recall a faculty member who inspired them and changed their life for the better.
Many of our graduates were so inspired that they have returned to Valpo as members of the faculty. In fact, 30 percent of the University’s faculty members are alumni. They are found across the campus and teaching courses in each of the Colleges.
Within the College of Engineering, Luke Venstrom ’07, Ph.D., Reva Johnson ’09, Ph.D., and Daniel Blood ’10, Ph.D., are colleagues in the mechanical engineering department. While they teach different courses, each of them understands the unique aspects of a Valpo education that is only gained by being a Valpo graduate.
Luke is the most senior of the three and is now in his fourth year at Valpo. As he pursued his master’s (2010) and Ph.D. (2012) at the University of Minnesota, Luke intended to work at a national laboratory conducting solar research — until a different path was revealed. A teaching assistant assignment provided interest to becoming a university professor, and the 2013 opening of the James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility allowed that position to be at Valpo. “There isn’t a better institution in the country for me,” he says.
The newest member of the mechanical engineering faculty, Reva Johnson is in her second year at Valpo. Much like Luke, she was drawn back by the opportunity to work within a new major at the College. Reva has a master’s (2014) and Ph.D. (2015) in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University and is teaching courses in Valpo’s new bachelor of science in bioengineering program. “I wanted to continue to play soccer in college, and the University provided the balance to succeed athletically and academically,” Reva says. “I have found the same support and opportunity to grow as a whole person in place for me now.”
Daniel Blood joined the mechanical engineering faculty in 2014 after earning his master’s (2012) and Ph.D. (2014) from the University of Florida. He says he accelerated his courses after learning Valpo would have an opening. “Once I knew I wanted to teach, Valpo was my dream job,” he says. The realization of his dream has had a positive impact on his students and some of the poorest parts of the world. He and a team of Valpo students traveled to Haiti to implement a solar-powered system that piped potable water to a children’s center.