Scott Duncan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in Valparaiso University’s College of Engineering ( is the recipient of the University’s prestigious Caterpillar Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The Caterpillar Award is presented annually to a committed and effective Valpo professor who displays proven excellence in engaging and empowering students, using innovative methods of teaching, and enhancing the personal, intellectual and spiritual growth of students. Duncan will be honored at the University’s commencement ceremonies in December 2011.

“For years I have sat across the hall from this impressive educator, overhearing touching conversations where he goes above and beyond to selflessly help others,” said Jeffrey Will, associate professor of engineering. “Scott serves as an example of what I want to be as a professor–there has been no more deserving candidate for this award.”

Duncan teaches rotor and machine tool dynamics, high speed machining and vibrations in Valpo’s Mechanical Engineering program. He was a co-recipient of the 2010 College of Engineering Richardson Grant.

“An engineering role model is someone who is knowledgeable in their field, who constantly strives to learn, who behaves professionally and applies their engineering skills to help others,” said Duncan. “The types of projects I select show my students that engineering can be used to help others.”

Duncan and his students are currently designing Valpo’s one-of-a-kind solar furnace, which will concentrate photons of the sun’s light using two mirrors to generate temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Celsius. The high temperatures will help investigate industrial chemical reactions, such as those which produce commodity metals like zinc or manganese.

In previous years, Duncan has worked with students to develop a sensory stimulus device to help children with autism spectrum disorder and an improved Braille printing press to make Braille copies of the Bible.

He received his doctorate degree from the University of Florida and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University.

Other nominees for the 2011 Caterpillar Award were Martin Buinicki, associate professor of English; Laurie Eberhardt, associate professor of biology; Beth Scaglione-Sewell, associate professor of biology; Bruce Hrivnak, associate professor of physics and astronomy; Warren Kosman, professor of Chemistry; and Nola Schmidt, associate professor of nursing.

The University’s Committee to Enhance Learning and Teaching selects the recipient from nominations made by students and other members of the campus community.