Vincent A. and Janet O'Brien Scholarships

Established 1996

Vince and Janet O'Brien were both born in 1907 in Iroquois County, Illinois, into families of little means. Vince was raised on a farm near Stockland, Illinois, and Janet was raised in Milford, Illinois. Even though her parents were immigrants from Germany, Janet attended the University of Illinois at Urbana and graduated in 1932. Upon the birth of her first child, Janet became a full-time homemaker. Vince's career plans were interrupted by the Great Depression and World War II. He eventually became a successful businessman and community leader in Watseka, Illinois.

Although he never attended college, he strongly supported education and served on the local school board for 25 years. He had an active and inquisitive mind and along with Janet, encouraged his two children to advance their understanding by attending college. This they both did with Katherine (O'Brien) Martin graduating from the U of I as valedictorian in 1962 and Vincent E. O'Brien graduating with High Honors in Electrical Engineering in 1967. Since then two grandchildren have also graduated from the U of I: Susan Trillet, 1986, and John Martin, 1993. Thus, Vince and Janet have established a tradition of interest and support for the U of I.


This scholarship was established by Vincent E. O'Brien to honor his parents for their continued devotion to educating future generations.


  • You must be a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, enrolled in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • The recipients must have demonstrated academic merit.
  • Freshman in ECE

Selection Process:

All applications are reviewed for the incoming freshmen scholarships. Applicants are ranked on the College of Engineering PGPA (predicted GPA), which is a calculation based on the student's high school GPA, class ranking, and ACT/SAT scores. The number is weighted to judge math scores higher as they are more relevant to the study of engineering. The ECE department solicits (via email) further information, including an essay and a letter of reference from the top 75 applicants. The scholarship committee reviews these essays and letters in order to decide the recipients of the freshmen scholarships.


The recipient(s) will be recognized during an annual Student Awards Banquet. All student recipients are featured on the second floor of the ECE Building's Student Honors Wall.

Past Recipients of the Award

Year Recipients
2023-2024 Theodore Braun, Ediz Canigur, Daniel Duffy, Juan Pablo Jimenez, Nikita Rudrapati
2022-2023 Rebecca Muise, Manit Niwas
2021-2022 Katherine Carder, Rebecca Muise, Manit Niwas
2020-2021 Christelle Seri, Katherine Carder, Sanjana Roy
2018-2019 Elisa Krause, Elizabeth Boehning, Sabrina Moheydeen, Abigail Starr
2017-2018 Jose Lopez, Sean McGee
2016-2017 Srinija Kakumanu
2015-2016 Rosemary Montgomery, Amee Kapadia, Ann Thomas
2014-2015 Wyatt Richter
2013-2014 Jordi Pakey-Rodriguez, Daniel Whisman
2012-2013 Genevieve LaBelle, Hannah Hasken, Daniel Whisman
2011-2012 Hannah Hasken
2010-2011 Daniel Whisman
2009-2010 Genevieve LaBelle
2008-2009 Raeed Chowdhury
2007-2008 Jacob Tolar
2005-2006 Paras Baxi, Erica Lynn, Kevin Reifsteck, Tyler Rossi
2004-2005 Jonathan Krauss, Gary J. Yen, Matthew A. Young
2003-2004 Jesse Gerdes, Craig Kietzman
2002-2003 Troy Becicka, Aaron C. Piggush
2001-2002 Troy Becicka, Cole E. Zemke
2000-2001 Cole E. Zemke
1999-2000 Timothy D. Smith
1998-1999 Jeffrey W. Young
1997-1998 Michael D. Horn
1996-1997 Thad A. Heinold