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Electrical engineering pair breaks new scholarship ground

Joshua Jacobsen and Christian Boschert pose near some electrical engineering equipment.

Christian Boschert, front, and Joshua Jacobsen, rear, became the first two University of Missouri students to receive awards through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Power & Energy Society Scholarship Plus Initiative.

Two electrical engineering undergraduates recently broke new ground by earning scholarships through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Power & Energy Society Scholarship Plus Initiative (IEEE PES). The organization’s initiative is aimed at rewarding high academic achievers in electrical engineering who have a strong commitment to power and energy-related fields.

Christian Boschert, a senior, and Joshua Jacobsen, a sophomore, became the first two University of Missouri students to receive awards through IEEE PES. The scholarships provide $2,000 per year for two years and $3,000, if necessary, for a third year to cover tuition and other educational costs. The program allows for access to an IEEE membership and helps students with internship and co-op experiences by allowing them to access a database of companies looking for high caliber students as well as providing hands-on assistance.

“I got to contact a mentor from Burns & McDonnell,” Jacobsen said. “We’ve emailed a little bit. It’s pretty exciting to be able to make professional contacts in that regard. … I feel very fortunate to be able to receive the scholarship, because I didn’t know there were all these opportunities involved besides just the money.”

Recipients must be undergraduates in electrical and computer engineering at an accredited institution, maintain high grade-point averages and strong extracurricular resumes, be committed to enrolling in three or more power and energy-related courses and interested in exploring the power and energy field through career experiences.

“It was a huge honor,” Boschert said. “I had no idea what to expect, being a national scholarship, so I might as well just try, but it was a huge honor to get it.”

MU students just recently became eligible for the awards after the university became a participating school in the IEEE PES Scholarship program, a process that took about a year and a half to complete. Information was submitted through grants from the state Department of Labor and Department of Workforce Development — initially the State Energy Sector Partnership, then the current Make it In America Challenge Grant — by Michael Devaney, professor emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Devaney teaches multiple energy-related courses, including a course on sustainable electrical energy resources.

Boschert has spent his recent summers interning in the power and energy field, including recent stints with Burns & McDonnell in Kansas City. He said his career aspirations include seeking ways to blend his love of engineering with other skills.

“For me, I’ve learned I like dealing with people, I like sales, and I like the engineering field, as well,” he said. “So the power field is a good combination of them all.”

Jacobsen said what most appeals to him about the power and energy field are the opportunities to work with renewable energy sources, and that’s helped guide his extracurricular interests, as well. He has worked extensively as a member of MU’s Hydrogen Car Team and said it’s been one of the more enriching experiences of his collegiate career.

“I think having that experience helps, as well, because that’s a renewable type of power, and I think that’s good to continue being involved with,” he said.

Boschert, meanwhile, has been active with the St. Thomas More Newman Center and the Catholic Student Association, currently serving as president of the latter, and he said he’s thankful for the ways in which this experience has helped shape his educational and professional life.

“It’s been an unbelievable experience,” Boschert said. “I organize meetings every week; plenty of public speaking opportunities; developing people in their faith, personally and leadership-wise. So that was something I talk about on every application I ever do, because it’s been an awesome experience for me.”