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Dordt College News

Van Gaalen presented ASME award

August 4, 2008

Van Gaalen

Dr. Nolan Van Gaalen, professor of engineering at Dordt College, was recently awarded the 2008 Student Section Advisor Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The organization presented him with a plaque, certificate, and a $500 honorarium.

The Student Section Advisor Award is presented to an ASME member whose leadership and service qualities have contributed to a Student Section of the Society, by encouraging engineering undergraduate membership and offering section activities that stimulate interest in the profession.

Van Gaalen said he was pleased to be presented with the honor. “It wasn’t something I was expecting so it was a really nice surprise.” He added that he’s excited about the prospect of continuing to build Dordt’s chapter.

Van Gaalen has been the faculty advisor for Dordt College’s ASME Student Section since it petitioned to start a chapter in 1991. He has previously received an ASME dedicated service award, in recognition of his service as a regional faculty representative and Dordt’s hosting of a regional conference. He has also served on ASME’s Student Sections Committee, representing the region’s ASME student sections in the Midwestern U.S. and Canada. The ASME currently has about 120,000 members, 30,000 of which are college students.

“Involvement in the ASME has brought awareness of our engineering program to the region,” says Van Gaalen. Dordt is the only private college offering an engineering program in ASME’s Nebraska Section, which includes the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and South Dakota State University. Dordt’s chapter includes freshmen through seniors, with a dozen students on the executive committee. Their biggest annual event is an overnight tour of engineering firms each January, with 30-35 engineering majors visiting a half dozen engineering companies.

“There’s definitely an advantage for students to have contact with a premiere professional association and be connected with the world of engineering,” says Van Gaalen. “They can see what’s going on locally as well as the extended links with the rest of the world.” He noted that Dordt College has two additional student engineering organizations: ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

Dr. Van Gaalen received his Ph.D. in engineering from Iowa State University. His research interests and specializations include thermodynamics, refrigeration, fluids properties, and heat transfers.

Dordt College has been offering a bachelor’s degree in engineering for 25 years. The Dordt College Engineering Department is one of only a handful of Christian Colleges that has for over 15 years met the rigorous academic standards required for ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accreditation as a Engineering Program. Additional emphases are offered in mechanical, electrical, civil-environmental, computer, or biomedical engineering.

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