School of Engineering alumnus reflects on education in light of new promotion

Todd Berghoff graduated from SIUE in 1997. He is now the Director of Business Development at Avion Solutions, Inc. 

As Todd Berghoff, 1997 School of Engineering graduate, steps into his new role as Director of Business Development at Avion Solutions Inc., he looks back on his time at SIUE. 

Avion Solutions Inc. is an employee-owned company that provides engineering, programs and logistics to the U.S. government.

Before Berghoff went to SIUE he spent two years at Lewis and Clark Community College and then he went to the Missouri University of Science and Technology, called the University of Missouri Rolla when Berghoff was a student there. His time at Rolla didn’t go his way and he left the school.

Even though Berghoff didn’t succeed at Rolla, that didn’t hinder him in any way. 

“It was the first time in my academic career that I wasn’t successful. So, I was driven to be successful, I wasn’t going to fail. Just because you fall down doesn’t mean that you don’t get back up,” Berghoff said. 

Berghoff started at SIUE in January 1995. He said that he had multiple reasons to go to SIUE. 

“My mother was a graduate, my brother was a graduate from SIUE, a lot of my cousins have graduated from SIUE. At the time it was more of a commuter school, I was living in Godfrey and it was only 45 minutes away. They had just got ABET {Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.} accredited, the mechanical engineering, so that made it real easy for me to decide to go to SIU and get my undergrad in mechanical engineering,” Berghoff said.

Berghoff said that he enjoyed SIUE much more than his time at Rolla, Missouri, because it offered a lot of different opportunities that Rolla didn’t as a strictly engineering school.

“SIU was definitely more well-rounded; it was an easier campus to negotiate and navigate. The engineering department, at the time we had only ten to fifteen  students so it was very small. Especially compared to Rolla. Just the class size and the professor one-on-one. We had five professors in the mechanical engineering department. It was way more hands way more applied engineering opposed to theoretical. It was the best education I could’ve gotten at the time.” Berghoff said. 

Berghoff said he values the lessons that his professors taught him and took it with him for his career. He also said some of the professors he remembered would always help him and any other student that worked hard. He also said that he had engineering professors that worked outside of the lab and worked along with the business and industry sides of engineering. 

“I’ve gone on and worked with people from quote unquote top ten engineering schools, people from Massachusetts Institute of Technology when I was in Ford Motor Company. I’ve worked with people from the University of Texas, University of Illinois and CalTech, and I would put my mechanical engineering degree against theirs any day of the week and twice on sunday,” Berghoff said. 

Richard Romick, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, was one of those engineering professors. Before his start as a professor at SIUE, he did academic research and was a practicing engineer. When he became a professor he developed practical ways to teach his students the realities of being an engineer, especially by meeting and interacting with engineers around the space.

“I think the students enjoyed getting out and rubbing elbows with the other engineers in the St.Louis area,” Romick said. 

Romick remembered Berghoff fondly as a student when he taught at SIUE.

“Todd was one of those students that would stand out because he tended to be a spokesman for his team. He’s very friendly but also not afraid to speak out and say what he thinks. He is one of those people that will continually rise to the top. He’s somebody that takes an opportunity and turns it into his advantage,” Romick said. 

Keqin Gu, the Chair of the Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering faculty, who taught Berghoff at SIUE recalled his memories of him.

“He {Berghoff} was a smart student. He had a rare combination of intelligence and personality,” Gu said. 

After graduation, Berghoff started his career working at Ford, Boeing, Seiler Instrument & Mfg. Co. Inc., General Dynamics Land Systems, and Leonardo DRS before he became the Director of Business Development at Avion Solutions Inc. last year. 

As the Director of Business Development, Berghoff comes up with ideas to help the company grow and profit from its growth. 

“In defense business development, you’re chartered to find and capture business opportunities. The United States government comes out with request for proposals or need statements and you basically say, ‘Hey I can solve this need,’ and you submit a bid and there’s a whole process where they either say, ’Great we love it, and here’s a contact’, or they say, ‘No that’s not what we want,’, or they pick somebody,” Berghoff said.

Berghoff thanks his success in business to his education at SIUE. 

“It kinda goes back to SIU, it’s a group of people that all have the same goal, nobody is going to let anybody fail and there all pointing in the right direction. It’s humbling again when they kinda give you the reins.” Berghoff said. 

To learn more about Avion Solutions Inc., visit their website. 


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