Valparaiso University building lab for program to train environmental engineers for steel mills

The Chapel of the Resurrection on the Valparaiso University campus. The university is equipping a laboratory for its new environmental engineering program that will train environmental engineers to consult at and clean up after heavy industry in Northwest Indiana.

Valparaiso University alumnus Richard Beumer, a longtime benefactor of the private Lutheran school on U.S. 30, donated money for a laboratory for a new program that will train students for work as environmental engineers to consult at, and clean up, steel mill and other industrial sites in Northwest Indiana.

Beumer contributed $500,000 toward equipping a laboratory where students will do experiments on potential water supply sources, and learn firsthand about civil and environmental engineering.

“I am blessed to be in a position to support Valpo, a place that is very special to me," Beumer said. “I hope this gift for the environmental engineering lab will provide a facility to train and educate engineers for many years to come. If so, this is a wonderful investment.”

Starting in fall of next year, Valparaiso will offer a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering through its College of Engineering.

The hope is to train engineers to ensure clean air and water in Northwest Indiana, with its presence of heavy industris like steel mills, oil refineries, food processors and auto parts suppliers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that environmental engineering jobs are expected to grow by 8 percent nationwide by 2026, but demand is expected to be even stronger in the Region as its many industrial companies will need environmental engineers to solve environmental challenges, such as reducing emissions or cleaning up after discharges into Lake Michigan.

“All of the students, faculty and staff at the College of Engineering are grateful for Dick Beumer’s support," College of Engineering Dean Eric Johnson said. “The lab will help launch the new degree program and provide a great teaching and learning facility for our students and faculty.”


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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.