Eric Van Kooten
Eric Van Kooten is a native of the Grand Rapids Area. He was born and raised in Kentwood, Michigan and attended South Christian High School. While at South Christian Eric was active in sports playing football, baseball and basketball along with being involved in several student organizations including Student Senate. Eric was very involved academically and found his greatest joy in the sciences.
After South Christian Eric choose to follow the family path to Calvin College. At Calvin Eric declared Engineering and got involved immediately. Academics were a priority and student organizations were still a staple in his activities. He is involved in REO, EWB and ASME. After Calvin, Eric has a goal of continuing his education with a dream of obtaining his doctorate and someday becoming Professor Van Kooten.
Ryan Van Beek
Originally from Lansing, Illinois, a suburb a half hour south of Chicago, Ryan is the oldest of four children born to Randy and Ruth Van Beek. He is a graduate of Illiana Christian High School where he played sports and sang in choir. Ryan entered the Calvin College Engineering program in the fall of 2008. Being an Activities Coordinator in Beets-Veenstra, he developed a wide social network and learned to manage his time to include both event planning for his dorm and the rigorous course load of the engineering classes he took.
During his first two summers as a college student he worked for an asphalt paving and maintenance company called Site Services, Inc. in Highland, Indiana. In his two summers there, he developed the ability to survive sixty hour work weeks performing physical labor outdoors as well as a good sense of what needs to be finished to accomplish a task. This skill of understanding what needs to be done and working until it is completed helped Ryan to earn the respect and appreciation of his employer. Entering into his junior year of college, Ryan began his focused study of mechanical engineering primarily in the fields of machine design, thermodynamics, and heat transfer as organized by the engineering curriculum.
After spending the summer before his senior year as a design engineering intern at Woodward, Inc., a company in the aviation and aerospace industry, he understood more completely how his engineering education will benefit him and enable him to go into many different areas. Through his three years of engineering and business coursework, sales engineering has emerged as the ideal field for Ryan to excel in because it would make use of his social and organizational skills in a context that also utilizes his educational background.
Chris Shepperly was born in Battle Creek, Michigan to Joel and Nancy Shepperly. He attended Harper Creek High School and the Battle Creek Area Math and Science Center. While in high school, Chris had a passion for math, science, and athletics. In school he was very involved in swimming as a captain and the National Honors Society as Vice President.
At Calvin, with his interest of math and science he chose to follow the path of engineering while also continuing his passion for swimming. Currently Chris is a senior mechanical engineering student and a two-year captain of the Calvin swim team. He has plans next year to work as a Mechanical Systems Engineer for Dematic Corp. in Grand Rapids.
Ben Niewenhuis hails from Battle Creek, Michigan, a product of St Phillip Catholic High School and the Battle Creek Area Math and Science Center. Active as a student and an athlete, Ben was particularly interested in the realms of math and science. He entered the Calvin College Engineering program in the fall of 2008, and has chosen Electrical Engineering as his field of study. He is an active leader of the Calvin Chess Club and has taken two summer research positions; one at Calvin College concerning polystyrene recycling and the other at Carnegie Mellon University on improvements in Monte Carlo analysis. He looks forward to continuing his studies at the graduate level in Electrical Engineering, with the eventual goal of entering into research.