Entrance Torch

Valparaiso University Appoints Endowed Professor of Engineering

June 9, 2021 – Valparaiso, Indiana – Luke Venstrom ’07, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering, has been awarded the Paul H. Brandt Endowed Professorship of Engineering.

As the Brandt Professor, Venstrom will enhance the teaching of persuasive oral communication of engineering and science disciplines at the University. Through courses, workshops and competitions, students will learn to communicate in a way that is clear and compelling, even when the content is technically challenging.

Professor Venstrom’s dedication to developing innovative techniques to educate our students makes him the perfect recipient for the Brandt Professorship,” said Eric W. Johnson ’87, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and former Brandt Professor. “By incorporating communication into the STEM curriculum, Professor Venstrom will ensure our graduates are leading the effort to increase science literacy in the general population.

Venstrom has been a member of the Valpo faculty since 2013. Venstrom’s research focuses on the field of solar chemistry as a means to sustainably produce fuels and commodities from concentrated solar energy. He co-manages the University’s James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility (SERF), which houses the only solar furnace at an undergraduate institution in the United States.

“I’m grateful to the Brandt family for providing me with this opportunity and look forward to enhancing the top-notch engineering education our students are already getting at Valpo,” Venstrom said. “More than ever we need to equip our graduates with the skills to motivate society to address the climate crisis and promote the equity of all people.”

In 2019, Venstrom was awarded a University Research Professorship, which allowed him to research as a visiting scientist for a year at the Solar Energy Institute of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne, Germany. He recently received the University’s award for Excellence in Research and Creative Work.

The Brandt Professorship was established in 1991 by Paul Brandt. The Brandt family is a significant supporter of Valpo including two endowed professorships in the Colleges of Business and Engineering and a scholarship for basketball student-athletes.

The Brandt Professorship was previously held by Mark Budnik, Ph.D., professor of electrical and computer engineering. Through the Brandt Professorship, Budnik developed innovative education techniques that were integrated into Valpo’s engineering curriculum, including courses on microcontrollers and the C programming language.