Engineering at Valpo Earns National Recognition

The College of Engineering has been named the 15th best undergraduate engineering program in the nation, according to the 2022 U.S. News and World Report rankings. It is an honor that the College has made possible by making immense strides in expanding the opportunities it provides, opening the doors for students and faculty of underrepresented backgrounds to learn and thrive, and by furthering the program’s already impressive emphasis on research and making a real-world impact.

Engineering at Valpo Earns National Recognition Image

“I think that this ranking reflects the extraordinary faculty and staff in the college and their complete dedication to the success of our students,” says Doug Tougaw ’05 MBA, Ph.D., P.E., dean of the College of Engineering.

In January of 2022, the College was recognized by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) for its commitment to making significant, measurable progress in increasing diversity, inclusion and degree attainment outcomes. Valpo was honored with Bronze Level recognition — the highest level awarded by the ASEE at that time —recognizing that the College is establishing baseline support for underrepresented groups in engineering, quantifiably analyzing and assessing unit composition, policies, culture and climate related to all groups underrepresented in engineering, and working to lower barriers for students of all backgrounds.

One of the ways the College establishes that culture and climate is by supporting groups that offer opportunities to students of underrepresented cultures. Both the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) have been established at Valpo to provide safe, open academic homes for students of their respective backgrounds. These organizations allow students more opportunities to grow and thrive as part of a community while providing skills, resources, and connections to help promote their success in the professional field after graduation.

Dean Tougaw, as president-elect of the ASEE, is helping not just Valpo, but all engineering institutions continue to push forward in diversity and inclusion. ASEE is a nonprofit organization of individuals and institutions that look to further engineering and engineering technology education by promoting worldwide leadership, fostering the technological education of society and promoting excellence in instruction, research, public service and practice. The ASEE has over 12,000 deans, department heads, faculty members, students, and government and industry representatives from all disciplines of the engineering field.

Students at the Valpo College of Engineering are given the tools they need to succeed, whether they are going into the professional world or pursuing further education. With excellent opportunities to participate in research projects and make a real-world impact in their field, these students will be poised to lead the way in whatever field they choose, and the College is only expanding the scope of those opportunities in the future.

“At Valpo, engineering students have the opportunity to develop as well-rounded, highly educated technical professionals,” says Dean Tougaw. “They work side-by-side with faculty in learning both the theory and the hands-on aspects of engineering that prepare them for extraordinary professional careers.”

Valparaiso University is a leading school in the multi-institution “Research 4 All” plan. Research 4 All is an exciting change in the way colleges approach student engineering research that will shift the mindset around research projects from an academic option to an entrepreneurial opportunity for students to make a difference in the world around them. The plan will create easier ties between researching professors and qualified student assistants and lower the barriers keeping those students and professors from connecting.

College of Engineering alumni are constantly rising to the expectations that come with their opportunities. Rachel Silcox ’19 and Katie Bassett ’20 have both been awarded prestigious  National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships this year, while Danya Johnson, P.E., ’03, ’12 has been elected the national president for the Society of Women Engineers.

While the ranking is a great accomplishment for the College of Engineering, both it and the University are focused on the future. For Dean Tougaw, the College is aimed squarely at Valparaiso University’s number one priority: providing a top-tier educational experience for its students.

“We are not focused on rankings,” Dean Tougaw says. “We make every decision in order to provide the greatest possible benefit to our students, but it is great to have our work recognized in a national ranking.”

The U.S. News and World Report rankings of colleges and universities were released in September, and — as always — Valparaiso University had an impressive showing in a variety of lists. Overall, the University was ranked number 176 out of 440 of the most elite public and private institutions in the nation, a top 50 best value institution, and saw the College of Nursing and Health Professions and the College of Business make the rankings lists for their respective fields.