Four current and former Valparaiso University College of Engineering students have received prestigious awards from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship program.

Erin Dillon, a senior civil engineering major from West Lafayette, Ind., and Peter Krenzke, a 2008 mechanical engineering graduate, have been awarded graduate fellowships from the National Science Foundation, which will provide them with financial resources to fund their graduate education at schools of their choice.

Two other engineering students were awarded honorable mentions: Reva Van Aartsen, and Jackie Kondratko, both 2010 mechanical engineering graduates. Stephanie Scherer, a 2008 graduate of Valpo’s biochemistry program, was also awarded an honorable mention.

“These awards are indicative of the quality of the engineering and science foundation provided here at Valpo,” said Kraig Olejniczak, dean of Valpo’s College of Engineering. “We have some very talented students, and when you combine their work ethic with a faculty possessing a passion for teaching, you have an outstanding class of engineers who are capable of receiving national recognition such as this.”

Dillon said her experience with Valpo’s International Engineering Program in Germany (VIEP, likely helped her application rise to the winning level.

“Valpo has given me an excellent education in engineering and German, but my year abroad in Germany provided me with something you can’t get in the classroom – hands-on, real life experience within my field in a foreign country,” said Dillon. “Throughout the semester study and my six-month co-op, not only were my engineering and language skills put to the test, but I was also challenged personally and emotionally.”

Eric Johnson, Brandt professor of engineering at Valpo, oversees the VIEP program, and said that the international experience can play a significant role in helping Valpo engineering students win such prestigious national awards.

“This is an intense immersive experience,” Johnson said. “These students live in Germany and work in a German company, allowing them to learn problem-solving from another perspective – and when it comes time to look for a job, they are prepared to work globally.”

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions.

The College of Engineering is an exclusively undergraduate professional college, committed to teaching and operating in the independent Lutheran tradition of Valparaiso University.

Led by a readily accessible faculty possessing a rich and varied academic and professional practice background, the College of Engineering offers a comprehensive curriculum that stresses fundamentals while also providing a professional and practical experience. The College of Engineering provides a high-expectations, high-support environment, blending technical and non-technical education and enabling bright, aspiring young people to enter the engineering profession.

More information about Valpo’s College of Engineering is available at