Jim Hendrickson builds a bat house with a group of students

James Hendrickson: Engineering excellence

Long-time engineering instructor brings his practical experience and his love for a challenge into the classroom

'I want to show my students that nothing is impossible'

James Hendrickson’s academic life has come full circle.

A former Penn State Beaver student, Hendrickson went on to Penn State University Park to complete his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Recently he returned to University Park to accept the prestigious Penn State Engineering Alumni Society Outstanding Teaching Award.

His teaching was also honored when he received the Penn State Beaver Advisory Board Michael Baker Jr. Inc. Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.

Hendrickson, who has been an instructor in engineering at Beaver since 2006, said it was an honor to receive such a prestigious award.

“This award is really based on student opinions, which means that I’m doing more good than harm,” he said. “I like to work with young people who are enthusiastic about their ideas.

“When you work in the engineering field, people become burned out and think everything is impossible, but I want to show (my students) that nothing is impossible.”

Before teaching at Beaver, Hendrickson worked as principal engineer for Mine Safety Appliances in Cranberry Township. He was also a senior engineer for Westinghouse Electric Corporation's Science and Technology Center and Nuclear Service Divisions.

He holds U.S. patents in the fields of superconductive energy storage, power generation, thermal imaging, personal protective equipment, and continuous steel casting.

So, what brought him back to Beaver campus?

“Coming back to Beaver was a great opportunity. I had a fondness for the campus because I went here,” he said.

That fondness doesn’t translate into softness in the classroom.

“Hendrickson’s classes are hard. He gets right into things. In the beginning, he wants to find out who really wants to stick it out and be an engineer,” said former student Andrew Kwiatkowski.

Sam Wilton, another former Penn State Beaver student, called Hendrickson a great teacher. “I liked his classes a lot once I got a feeling for his teaching style. He was one of the most helpful teachers I’ve ever had in my life,” Wilton said.

Hendrickson said not much about Beaver campus has changed since his days as a student. “Professor Takahashi is still here."

Beaver campus just wouldn’t be the same without Leo Takahashi’s physics class, he said. Takahashi began teaching at Beaver in 1967.

“My biggest accomplishment thus far in my life was passing Professor Takahashi’s class.”


Mechanical Engineering Fellowship (Post-Graduate) University of Pittsburgh

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering University of Pittsburgh

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Penn State University