Education Committee Reports Scholarship Program Growth

Your Foundation’s scholarship program has been steadily growing since it was launched in 2016, helping address the industry’s growing need for specifically trained engineers.

Mark Stencel, chairman of IIAR’s Education Committee, said that in 2016, the program had three applicants. The next year, it was seven. Then it grew to 10. In 2019, there were 26 applicants. “The geographic [location] of these applicants extended form the U.S. to Canada, Latin America, and even some from Africa,” Stencel said.

The scholarships sponsored by the IIAR/ARF Founders Scholarship program are awarded each year to junior and senior level students with an interest in perusing an engineering or related technical degree.

In a renewed effort to focus on education, In 2017, the Ammonia Refrigeration Foundation (ARF) voted to increase the value of the scholarship program, Stencel said. A student participating in the scholarship both junior and senior year will receive up to $13,000 in scholarship grants as well as an all-expenses paid trip to IIAR’s Annual Natural Refrigeration Conference & Expo.

“[Through this scholarship] we are able to attract very talented, highcaliber individuals to the industry and expose them to natural refrigeration while providing them a vehicle through the conference for multiple career opportunities, Stencel said.

The value gained from this scholarship is tremendous. Bob Port, IIAR Scholarship Subcommittee chair, viewed by many as the driving force behind the scholarship program, said that the conference visit is particularly beneficial.

“Every year, the kids are the same way – they’re just blown away by coming to the conference,” Port said. “The amount of attention they get, the people that they get to work with… they have more people asking them for resumes than they know what to do with.”

Stencel agreed there are many benefits of the scholarship both to the individual students participating and the industry as a whole. “I believe the scholarship program has the direct benefit of attracting recipients to the natural refrigeration industry,” he said, “but there’s an indirect benefit of getting the word out in the consciousness of engineering students wherever the program is publicized about the tremendous opportunities there are in natural refrigeration.”

Port added that scholarships such as the ARF program are critical for the viability of natural refrigeration. “The importance is huge. We’re kind of a small niche of a much bigger industry . . . but we’re critical. A lot of people won’t eat if we don’t exist,” he said. “We struggle to get new people brought into the industry.”

Port explained that as lynchpins of the ammonia refrigeration industry’s leadership age and retire, they need to be able to pass on their institutional knowledge to younger, up-and-coming talent. “You don’t see as much young blood coming in behind you,” he said. “We really need to start getting more younger people into the industry and excited about it.”

Interested applicants must meet specific requirements and they are vetted using a number of criteria. First, the scholarship is open to juniors and seniors attending a four-year accredited engineering college. These students must be pursuing a course emphasis in thermal fluid science or related disciplines, and they must have completed 45 semester credit hours while maintaining a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Students are required to submit an application form along with their transcript and a letter or letters of recommendation.

“The scholarship has gained traction, but as the industry, the foundation and the opportunities grow, the hope is that the scholarship grows as well,” Stencel said. “[The hope is] to have more applicants and more participants and it becomes a real vehicle to bring talented young people into our industry.”

More information on the scholarship is available online at