Faculty – School of Engineering

Dr. Darrin Muggli

Dr. Darrin Muggli

Professor and Chair of the School of Engineering

Dr. Muggli is a Professor and the Chair of the School of Engineering at Benedictine College. He graduated with a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of North Dakota in 1992. Subsequently, he worked for two years as a Process Engineer for Koch Engineering Co. in Wichita, KS. He entered graduate school at the University of Colorado at Boulder where he earned his doctorate in 1998, specializing in catalysis.

Dr. Muggli was a faculty member at the University of North Dakota from 1999 – 2009. During that time he was awarded over four million dollars in research funding, published 30 peer-reviewed articles, and has given numerous research presentations.  He holds three patents, received a university-wide award for excellence in undergraduate teaching, was voted 2007 Professor of the Year in the School of Engineering, and received a 2009 award for excellence in teaching, research, and service.

Degrees
BS in Chemical Engineering, University of North Dakota, 1992
Ph.D in Chemical Engineering, University of Colorado, 1998

Patrick O'Malley

Dr. Patrick O’Malley

Associate Professor, School of Engineering

Dr. O’Malley earned his doctorate in 2012 from the Catholic University of America. He specialized in laser Doppler vibrometry- a technique for making vibration measurements using a laser beam. He has published his research in peer-reviewed journals and presented work at numerous conferences. He participated in research at Catholic University developing an acoustic imaging system for detection of roadside explosives, an apparatus for detecting buried landmines based on their vibration signature, and characterization of a Caribbean seelpan vibration pattern.

During his time in Washington, O’Malley also worked for a contractor at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center where he was on the analysis team for Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument and UVIS instrument. Other projects at NASA included analysis of the ICES at failure and development of robotic satellite servicing capability.

At Benedictine, Dr. O’Malley teaches General and Mechanical Engineering courses including Statics, Dynamics, Design of Machinery, System Dynamics and Control, Mechanical Measurement Lab, Robotics and Finite Element Analysis. He was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Award in 2019 by the American Society of Engineering Education MidWest Section.

Degrees
BME, Mechanical Engineering, The Catholic University of America, 2006
MME, Mechanical Engineering, The Catholic University of America, 2007
Ph.D, Mechanical Engineering, The Catholic University of America, 2012

Dr. Scott Newbolds

Dr. Scott Newbolds

Associate Professor, Engineering

Dr. Newbolds has taught at Benedictine since 2012.  His classes focus mainly on structural design, engineering mechanics, and engineering materials.  He has served co-advisor to the concrete canoe team and ASCE student chapter.  Additionally, Dr. Newbolds has served as advisor to the engineering mission trip.  His research interests are in concrete materials, corrosion of steel in concrete, and the integration of Catholic teachings and the engineering profession. 

Dr. Newbolds started his career as a Project Engineer for the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) in 1995. While working in the INDOT Research and Development office, he received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2006.  In 2009, he began work as the Director of Site Operations for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). Dr. Newbolds is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Indiana.

Degrees
BS in Civil Engineering, Purdue University, 1995
MSCE in Civil Engineering, Purdue University, 2000
PhD in Civil Engineering, Purdue University, 2007

Charles Sprouse

Dr. Charles Sprouse

Associate Professor, Engineering

Dr. Sprouse earned a physics degree from Benedictine College in 2007. He then began engineering studies at the University of Kansas, and following a bachelor’s degree in 2009, he joined the doctoral program and earned his Ph.D. in 2016. During the course of his engineering studies, he worked in consulting engineering and collaborated with some of the world’s leading automotive/transportation research organizations. Dr. Sprouse’s research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, presented at academic conferences, and he has moderated for academic panels. His research areas include diesel particulate filters, organic Rankine cycles, waste heat recovery, adaptive information displays for automotive applications, materials testing, artificial intelligence in transportation, advanced pavement systems, and environmental stewardship. He began teaching part-time at Benedictine College in 2011 and returned to his alma mater on a full-time basis in 2013.

Degrees
BA in Physics, Benedictine College, 2007
BS in Mechanical Engineering, University of Kansas, 2009
Ph. D. in Mechanical Engineering, University of Kansas, 2016

Dr. Scott Blonigen

Dr. Scott Blonigen

Associate Professor, Engineering

Dr. Blonigen joined the Benedictine School of Engineering in 2015.  His teaching responsibilities include the freshman introduction to engineering course and the chemical engineering senior design and process controls courses.  Dr. Blonigen is the faculty advisor for the Benedictine student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). 

Before joining the Benedictine faculty, Dr. Blonigen spent over 20 years doing process and product development work for companies including Kraft Foods, Nestlé, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, and Hills Pet Nutrition and consulting work for the Battelle Memorial Institute.  Dr. Blonigen is a licensed professional engineer (Ohio).

Degrees
BS, Chemical Engineering, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, 1986
MS, Chemical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, 1989
Ph.D, Chemical Engineering, Iowa State University, 1994

Dr. Peter Merkle

Dr. Peter Merkle

Associate Professor, Engineering

Dr. Merkle graduated with B.S. degrees in chemical engineering and management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984. After working in the chemical industry, he pursued graduate study in environmental science at SUNY Stony Brook, conducting research on atmospheric deposition of pollutants to marine ecosystems. He earned his doctorate in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech, specializing in catalytic filtration of drinking water. In 1995, he joined Sandia National Laboratories and was assigned to the Department of Defense from 1998-2002. Returning to Sandia, he worked for the next ten years in domestic and international security technology programs. In 2012, Dr. Merkle joined the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University as Associate Professor (Civil Engineering), conducting research on aquaponics technology. He holds two patents and is a Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Degrees
BS, Chemical Engineering, BS in Management, M.I.T. 1984
MS, Marine Environmental Science, SUNY Stony Brook, 1991
Ph.D, Civil Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1995

Dr. Megan Paciaroni

Dr. Megan Paciaroni

Associate Professor, Engineering

Dr. Paciaroni comes to Benedictine from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO where she was an associate professor in the Engineering and Physics Department. Dr. Paciaroni was very involved in development of undergraduate research opportunities at Fort Lewis, and hopes to bring that expertise to School of Engineering at Benedictine College. Her research interests include laser diagnostics in combustion systems.

Degrees
BS, Optics, University of Houston, TX Electro 1987
MS, Electrical Engineering, State University of New York at Binghamton, NY 1993
Ph.D, Electrical Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden CO Engineering Systems 2004

John Modlin

John Modlin

Assistant Professor, Engineering

John joined the Benedictine Engineering faculty in 2021. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri – Rolla (now Missouri S&T). After a few years in industry, he returned to school and earned his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. John worked in the electric power industry for 33 years, holding multiple positions in engineering and management, before retiring in April 2021.

John’s work experience has included energy conversion, thermal cycles, fluids, controls, rotating machinery, water treatment, and extensive project management. He is a registered Professional Engineering (PE) in Missouri and certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) with the Project Management Institute.

Degrees
BS in Mechanical Engineering, University of Missouri – Rolla, 1985
MS in Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, 1989

Dr. Andrew Downs

Dr. Andrew Downs

Assistant Professor, Engineering

Dr. Downs earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 2010 where his work focused on additive manufacturing of passive microwave circuits and antennas. After graduation, Dr. Downs worked as a nuclear engineer for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. Tiring of the rain, he returned to the Midwest to work as a project engineer for Interstates Control Systems in Sioux Center, Iowa. Four years later, and unable to neglect a call to teach, Dr. Downs entered graduate school at Iowa State University.

While at Iowa State, Dr. Downs helped develop an improved method of multi-mode dispersion compensation for ultrasonic guided wave NDT (nondestructive testing). Dr. Downs’s research interests are many, but he has a particular interest in wave phenomena – both electromagnetic and elastic. Other interests include, reconfigurable and ultra-wideband antennas, sensor design and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Degrees
BS, Electrical Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 2008
MS, Electrical Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 2010
PhD, Electrical Engineering, Iowa State University, 2021

john-rogers

Dr. John Rogers

Associate Professor, Engineering

Dr. John Rogers joined the Benedictine College School of Engineering in 2022. He has a range of engineering and teaching experience. As an ocean engineer, he developed towed systems for underwater listening, and structures that reduce ship noise. As a structural engineer, he verified the strength of foundations for shipboard equipment. As a design engineer he developed fluid power systems and designed industrial controls for aircraft and automobile plants. As a college instructor, he taught a variety of courses in design, mechanics, and mechatronics, and he advised numerous capstone projects and independent studies.

Dr. Rogers’ PhD research work at Rensselaer was the optimization of stepper controls to reduce unwanted dynamics in machinery. He was awarded a patent for this work. His scholarly interests include microcontroller-based system design, biomechanics, instrumentation, and teaching and learning. He holds a Professional Engineer license in New York.

Degrees
BS, Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1986
MS, Mechanical Engineering, Montana State University, 1993
PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2003

katharine-hirl

Dr. Katharine Strandquist

Assistant Professor

Dr. Strandquist graduated from Benedictine College with a degree in Chemistry and a degree in Chemical Engineering from University of North Dakota in 2018. After graduation, she pursued her doctorate in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. During her graduate research she worked with the Department of Energy’s Center for Bioenergy Innovations as well as collaborated with Iowa State University on a USDA-NIFA funded project (C-CHANGE). Her expertise is in conversion of plant material to renewable natural gas using mixed microbial communities. Dr. Strandquist received her doctorate in 2022 before joining the engineering faculty at Benedictine College.

Degrees
BS, Chemistry, Benedictine College, 2018
BS, Chemical Engineering, University of North Dakota, 2018
PhD, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, 2022

tony-bujana

Tony Bujana

Assistant Professor

Tony joined the Benedictine School of Engineering in 2022. He comes from Collins Aerospace where he worked as a Senior Electrical Engineer. At Collins, Tony spent his time designing and troubleshooting electronic systems used on commercial aircrafts. His experience includes flight control systems, cabin electronics, and electromechanical systems. Tony holds a B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering from LeTourneau University where he also worked as a research and teaching assistant.

Degrees
BS, Electrical Engineering, LeTourneau University, 2015
MS, Electrical Engineering, LeTourneau University, 2016

Engineering Faculty: Deacon Patrick Hirl

Dn. Patrick Hirl

Assistant Professor, Engineering

Deacon Hirl graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in cvil engineering. Following graduation, he was commissioned an officer in the US Navy and served aboard the nuclear submarine USS PITTSBURG (SSN-720). In 1993, Dn Hirl returned to the University of Notre Dame to pursue a doctoral degree in civil engineering focusing on biological waste treatment and bioremediation. Following graduation, he has taught at the University of Illinois Chicago, the University of Minnesota, and University of St Thomas. Dn Hirl has been a practicing professional engineer for the past 25 years working on projects from bioremediation of soil and groundwater, to treatment of industrial wastewater, and renewable energy. His experience spans the full gamut of engineering from process development, laboratory studies, pilot studies, conceptual/preliminary design, detailed design, construction, commissioning, startup, operation, and troubleshooting. Dn Hirl has received patents for the integration of anaerobic digestion into ethanol facilities for improved energy efficiency. He was ordained a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church in 2017.

Degrees
BS in Civil Engineering, University of Notre Dame, 1987
PhD in Environmental Engineering, University of Notre Dame, 1997

Sean Bauer

Sean Bauer

Lab Manager, Engineering

Sean Bauer is a 1986 graduate of Benedictine College, with a BA in Physics. Sean has been working in the Benedictine College Physics and Engineering Labs since 2009. He has over 25 years of experience working as an engineer for a small manufacturer of electronic instruments in Atchison, Kansas.

Degrees
BA in Physics, Benedictine College, 1986

Roberto Rojas

Adjunct Instructor

Roberto Rojas is the owner of manufacturing businesses, including Kansas Metals, in the US and overseas. He developed the patented screen used in water wells and is the winner of several international awards. Roberto Rojas has extensive professional Engineering, Managerial, and Entrepreneur experience in the US and internationally. Roberto Rojas is multilingual and a competitive swimmer. His wife Maria (known as Mecha) is an accomplished cannon lawyer who also teaches history to homeschool children in town. They have four children, two of whom attend Benedictine College. Roberto Rojas is involved with the Boy Scouts in Atchison, KS.

Degrees
B.S. Mechanical Engineering Florida International University
M.S. Mechanical Engineering Virginia Tech

Charlene Smith

Adjunct Lecturer

Charlene Smith graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering in 1992 and a M.S. in Industrial Engineering, specializing in engineering management, in 2002.  She started her career at Atchison Casting where she focused on the core manufacturing process. She later went on to practice engineering at Yellow Freight’s corporate headquarters where she worked extensively with process improvements. In 2010, she co-founded Young Minds At Play, where she designed educational toys and materials. Her designs have won Dr. Toy and Creative Child Awards. She has been teaching engineering at Benedictine since 2017.

Degrees
B.S. Industrial Engineering  
M.S. Industrial Engineering with a Specialization in Engineering Management