News & Features

Experiencing Magic: Disney Partnership Promotes Creativity, Leadership, and Innovation

Experiencing Magic: Disney Partnership Promotes Creativity, Leadership, and Innovation

For nearly a decade, Valpo engineering students have traveled to Disney Resorts in Orlando and Anaheim to participate in tours, lectures, and workshops as part of their course curriculum. Led by Mark Budnik, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and the Paul H. Brandt Professor in Engineering, this partnership provides students with exclusive access to the Disney operation, where they gain unique insight and invaluable hands-on experience. “I have been taking students on class trips to Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort for several years,” Professor Budnik says. “The program began as an opportunity for students to experience engineering outside of a standard field trip and has progressed into a unique partnership between Valpo and Disney. Most importantly, it allows our students to learn firsthand about Disney’s approach to creativity, leadership, and innovation.” Electrical engineering students were the first to participate. Since then, it has been expanded…

A Journey Home: Professor Reva Johnson ’09 Spurs Student Research in Bioengineering Field

A Journey Home: Professor Reva Johnson ’09 Spurs Student Research in Bioengineering Field

In fall 2017, Reva Johnson ’09, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering and bioengineering, began her third year with the College of Engineering faculty. A passionate teacher and innovative researcher, she has embraced her role, joining the ranks of accomplished faculty who inspired her as a student less than a decade ago and propelling the College of Engineering into the future. “With the emergence of bioengineering at Valpo, it was the perfect time to return to Valpo and be involved in shaping a program,” Professor Johnson says. “I have the opportunity to teach at a place that not only values teaching, but excels at it — and I get to do research. This is the ideal situation for me, teaching and doing research in topics that I love.” Embracing the Valpo experience, Professor Johnson has granted her students unique opportunities to engage in undergraduate research. She has involved several students…

A Solid Foundation: Valpo Alumna Primed to Build a World of Difference

A Solid Foundation: Valpo Alumna Primed to Build a World of Difference

Travel the world one day and build it the next. The architecture across Europe inspired Rebecca Otte ’95 to work to preserve historic structures in the United States after earning her civil engineering degree from Valparaiso University. Rebecca has led many projects as an environmental planner for the Regional Planning Commission’s (RPC) Brownfield Redevelopment Program (BRP) in New Orleans. Through grants provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, the BRP assists developers, property owners, and prospective purchasers to navigate the environmental obstacles of redeveloping abandoned and underutilized properties. “The purpose of the BRP is to promote economic development and create jobs in urban environments,” Rebecca says. After starting her career as an environmental consultant in California, she moved to New Orleans and began overseeing the environmental aspects of the BRP at RPC, quickly transitioning to handling all aspects of the role, including overall project and grant management. One recent project was…

Endless Opportunity: Valpo STEM Students Pursue Multiple Passions

Endless Opportunity: Valpo STEM Students Pursue Multiple Passions

Thanks to the tenacity of Alison Norris ’17, Valpo is home to a chamber music ensemble nicknamed the “STEM-quintet,” enabling a group of five individuals with varying interests to incorporate their love for music into their arduous academic schedules. “I chose to attend Valparaiso University for countless reasons — my mother’s alma matter, premier engineering program, and endless opportunity,” Alison says. “At Valpo, I have not only been able to explore my interests, I have been encouraged and inspired to do so.” Alison, who recently graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, was a member of the Symphony Orchestra throughout her four years on campus. While Valpo’s music department offers an array of options for non-majors, when Alison sought to expand her musical involvement by joining a woodwind quintet, there were no openings for a flautist. Thus, with the approval of the music department, Alison took initiative to create an…

Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Distinguished Faculty Spur Innovation

Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Distinguished Faculty Spur Innovation

At Valpo, academic disciplines are blended together across campus, facilitating new pursuits and discoveries. Elizabeth Wuerffel ’00, MFA, associate professor of art, and Jeff Will, Ph.D., professor of electrical and computer engineering, have enjoyed an enduring, collaborative relationship, embracing Valpo’s commitment to multidisciplinary innovation. “I value the size of the University as well as its nature as a comprehensive university,” Professor Will says. “Liz and I can get together and interact, and if other possibilities arise, we can get in touch with other faculty, like music, dance, or theatre. There are no barriers. I truly believe my university values this kind of working across disciplinary boundaries.” Professors Wuerffel and Will began their collaborative relationship more than six years ago when Professor Wuerffel and her art students sought the expertise of the College of Engineering in the area of aerial photography. Professor Will answered the call, engaging his senior design students…


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Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Comes to Valparaiso University

The College of Engineering at Valpo has a new inclusive and professional development opportunity for students, thanks to a student-led push to create a space for Latinx/Hispanic students in engineering. Valpo’s chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) will work to fulfill the goals of the national organization: change lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support, and development. The organization is recognized by the Student Senate. “SHPE is a place that members can call home within the College of Engineering,” says Krystal Peña ’21, current president of the organization. “With SHPE, I am now able to relate to others who understand the academic environment that we are in and still be able to relate to other topics that pertain to our Latinx/Hispanic communities and be able to freely speak in Spanish.” SHPE at Valpo…

Alumna Q&A with Suzanne Slade ’86, engineer turned children’s book author

Q: What made you choose Valparaiso University? A: I grew up in a little town called Goshen, Indiana. I knew I wanted to go into engineering, so I went to Purdue for a summer camp. But when I got there, I found the campus to be a bit overwhelming. I had also applied to Valpo and visited campus, and I really liked Valpo’s campus. I always enjoyed the size and small classrooms, and the fact that all the professors knew you by name. They were also always available and ready to help. Q: What engineering jobs did you have after your graduation from Valpo? A: I was looking for a meaningful job in engineering where I could contribute. I held several engineering jobs and had different reasons or personal circumstances for moving each time. One of my notable careers was at McDonnell Douglas Space Systems in California, and I was…

Professor Venstrom ’07 continues research in Germany

When Luke Venstrom ’07, Ph.D., started his undergraduate education at Valparaiso University, he had no idea he would later become an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at his alma mater. In fact, he never saw himself returning to academia at all. Professor Venstrom completed both his master’s degree and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. He was a teaching assistant during his time at Minnesota, and that was his first experience in teaching and working closely with students. “When I was at Minnesota, my research lab had an undergraduate student join, and while I was working closely with him, I realized how much fun I was having,” Professor Venstrom says. “So, I was really looking for something that Valpo offered when I was looking for a teaching position: focused teaching with high-quality research woven into it.” While teaching at Valpo, Professor Venstrom has been instrumental with solar energy research, more…

Dedication of Environmental Engineering Lab

During Homecoming Weekend 2019, the Richard E. Beumer, P.E., Environmental Engineering Lab was dedicated in front of a crowd of alumni, students, College of Engineering faculty and staff, and other members of the Valpo community. President Heckler thanked Judith “Judy” Rockett ’60 Beumer and Richard “Dick” Beumer ’59 for their generosity in providing funds for this new lab, which will allow students to study how to “take care of God’s creations.” The lab will support Valpo’s new environmental engineering program, which began in fall 2019. The Beumers are longtime supporters of Valpo. The Judith L. Beumer Writing Center, located in the Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources, was named in Judy’s honor in 2017. Dick is an emeritus member of the Valparaiso University Board of Directors, having served for more than 25 years, from 1990 to 2016. Their gifts support Forever Valpo: The Campaign for Our Future, a $250…

A Flight Above: Valpo Alum Soars in Success

Chris Nehls ‘85 has wanted to fly forever. The dream has been planted since his father took him to the skies with a fixed-wing pilot’s license around the age of five. “We happened to fly out of a small grass strip when a Hughes 269 flew in. I was just absolutely captivated,” Chris recalls in an article from Rotorcraft Pro magazine. “Growing up, I decided that if I didn’t become a helicopter pilot, then I would become an engineer who was involved with helicopters.” Time has passed, but the dream of flying and engineering helicopters has never faded. Chris navigated his passion and was fueled through collegiate studies to a mechanical engineering degree from Valparaiso University. After visiting campus, he knew immediately this was where he needed to go. Chris has come a long way thanks to the start of that bachelor’s degree. “I have often said that if I…

Valpo Engineering Students Host Regional Conference

Valpo’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers hosted the organization’s annual Great Lakes Student Conference this year, welcoming students from 19 universities to come together to compete in a set of civil engineering-based competitions. The three-day event, held in April, was expected to draw nearly 550 participants. Students put their skills to the test through a variety of competitions, from constructing concrete cornhole boards, a steel bridge competition, geotech and environmental labs, and a materials competition utilizing the College of Engineering’s strong wall facility. An annual highlight, the concrete canoe competition was held at Stone Lake in La Porte, Indiana. Each team was challenged to prove that their canoe could be filled with water, pushed below the surface, and resurface within a designated amount of time. Although high winds prohibited the teams from racing, the day was still considered a success, with students having fun and seeing the…

Faculty Member to Receive National Outstanding Teaching Award

Mark Budnik, Ph.D., the Paul H. Brandt Professor of Engineering and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been selected to receive the ASEE National Outstanding Teaching Medal. He was selected from among an extremely competitive field of 12 candidates this year. Budnik joined the Valpo College of Engineering's faculty in 2006 after a 16-year career in the semiconductor field, which culminated with his service as a principal engineer at Hitachi Semiconductor. He was named to the Brandt Professorship in 2013, the same year that he received the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award in recognition of the outstanding faculty-student relationships he has established. “Professor Budnik is a talented and dedicated educator, and we are deeply grateful for the many incredible ways that he works with our students at Valparaiso University,” said Mark L. Biermann, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “This wonderful recognition is certainly well…

Valpo Professor Honored for Excellence in Research and Creative Work

Shahin Nudehi, Ph.D., P.E., associate professor of mechanical engineering and bioengineering at Valparaiso University’s College of Engineering and the Frederick F. Jenny Professor of Emerging Technology for 2018–2020, received the University’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Work for 2019. Nudehi teaches courses throughout the College’s bachelor’s programs, including bioengineering, electrical and mechanical engineering. In addition to teaching, Nudehi also works to create opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in significant research projects. “Professor Nudehi has engaged and inspired many students and provided these students with the intellectual training to someday become practicing engineers and researchers themselves,” said Scott Duncan, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of mechanical engineering. His research interests include acoustic and vibrations, electrochemistry and nonlinear and robust control theories. Nudehi’s work with students on the James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility resulted in the design and implementation of the instrumentation in the control room, the…

Introducing the Integrated Business and Engineering Bachelor’s Program

Valpo’s College of Engineering is partnering with the College of Business to offer an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree program for students interested in both subjects, beginning fall 2019. The integrated business and engineering degree will prepare students for a multitude of careers on the business side of technical companies or for graduate studies in areas like business administration and project management. There is a growing need for graduates who can combine creative thinking with technical knowledge. A recent study from Burning Glass Technologies reported that jobs that utilize both creative thinking and analytical problem solving represent some of the fastest growing and highest paying occupations. Additionally, these positions are less likely to become automated by machines or programs, indicating job security. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a solid job outlook as well, with a projected 7% percent increase in jobs from 2016 to 2026. The program will feature coursework in…

Bioengineering at Valpo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16UNbDa0cvM&feature=youtu.be

Kathleen Salter – Valparaiso International Engineering Program

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxnwQsA1PK8&feature=youtu.be

Gabe Martinez – College of Engineering Profile

https://youtu.be/bHCX0nqyER0

Sarah Kuchel – College of Engineering Profile

https://youtu.be/2PpohB9IBeA

Valpo to Launch Environmental Engineering Degree Fall 2019

Valpo’s College of Engineering continues its trajectory of growth with the addition of its newest degree program in environmental engineering. Beginning fall 2019, students can enroll in the program, preparing them to be global leaders equipped with the skills needed to prevent and solve environmental challenges affecting current and future generations. “The new environmental engineering program at Valpo will provide undergraduates with an education structured around hands-on laboratory, collaborative design, and interdisciplinary research experiences,” says Anne Raich, Ph.D., department chair and associate professor of civil engineering. “The knowledge and experience these students gain will help prepare them for engineering careers solving complex regional and global environmental problems in service to the public good.” Environmental engineering is an exciting, growing field, where there is strong demand and good salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median pay of $86,800 annually in 2017 and projects an 8 percent increase in…

Valpo Professor Pursues Additional Degree for Benefit of Students

Valparaiso University is home to professors who not only love to teach, but love to learn. Committed to advancing his discipline, developing as an educator, and elevating the lives of the students he teaches, Shahin Nudehi, Ph.D., P.E., associate professor of mechanical engineering, is currently pursuing his master’s in electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Nudehi joined the College of Engineering faculty nearly a decade ago, following a fulfilling industry job as a research scientist at AVL, where much of his work centered around circuit design. His responsibilities included leading a team in the development and design of the instruments General Motors used to test vehicle emissions. After five years at AVL, Professor Nudehi found his work to be routine and sought out academia as a means to utilize his Ph.D., further educate himself, and continue to evolve. “When you’re in academia, you are fulfilled by educating people,…