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Selkirk College Alumnus Graduates Top of the Class at University of Victoria

Kirsten Hildebrand
By Kirsten Hildebrand
October 19th, 2016

Peter Kremler credits the strong foundation he secured during his time at Selkirk College as a springboard to graduating at the top of his Faculty of Engineering class at the University of Victoria.

Kremler took first-year courses at Selkirk College before transferring to UVic where he graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering this past Spring. The strong student was honoured with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Victoria Section Gold Medal for top marks in Electrical Engineering.

“When I first transferred to UVic I was a bit concerned that coming from a smaller school I would be at a disadvantage in the big classes,” says Kremler. “What I found, though, is that the strong foundation I received at Selkirk College gave me an advantage.”

The small class sizes and great instruction were the perfect combination to set Kremler on the right track. He credits teachers Elroy Switlishoff, David Feldman, John Josafatow, Per Joensen, Allison Lutz, Frank Fowler, Allyson Perrot and Jonathan Buttle who he fondly remembers by name, a sign of the tight-knit community established at Selkirk College.

“Selkirk College set me up for success by providing me with a solid foundation in the subjects that I relied on for the rest of my education. It also helped give me the confidence I needed to succeed in the larger pool of students at UVic,” he says.

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Victoria has an average incoming high school grade of 89 per cent. Director and Chair of the Electrical Engineering Program Michael McGuire saw Kremler competing against 89 students in the graduating class to achieve the top GPA.

“He came to us from Selkirk College which clearly prepared him well for our program,” McGuire says. “He excelled in several areas in his technical electives varying from electrical machines to studies on integrated circuit design and radio antenna characterization.”

Dr. Ashoka Bhat, who worked with Kremler on his senior year projects at UVic, has a reputation of being a difficult instructor to impress.

“Mr. Peter Kremler was one of the two [out of more than 60 students in that class] who scored more than 90 per cent in my power electronics course,” says Bhat. “He attended all my lectures, showed a lot of interest in the course material and also in the hardware lab experiments, participated actively in the course asking several questions and it was a pleasure to have him in this course.”

Selkirk College Provides the Spark

Kremler grew up in Kaslo and graduated from J.V. Humphries. A solid math student, he was encouraged by his teacher George Lord to enter the field of engineering. After high school Kremler took time away from school to travel and during that time developed a keen interest in renewable energy. Living in Victoria, Selkirk College and its six-week Renewable Energy Program offered the perfect excuse to return to the Kootenays.

“I enjoyed that program so much that I decided to continue on with school, and wanting to stay in the Kootenays, I looked at the university transfer options at the Castlegar Campus,” he says.

Originally unsure of what degree path was right for him, he took classes in geography, economics and history. He decided engineering provided an avenue into the renewables industry and made use of his natural abilities.

David Feldman, now Selkirk College Dean of Instruction, is pleased Kremler has maintained a connection with his instructors and continues to sit as a valued member of Selkirk College’s Engineering Program Advisory Committee. He was also impressed by Kremler’s dedication to his education.

“As a student, Peter was always top of his class. He was engaged, enthusiastic, curious and carried a professional demeanor into his work and relations,” Feldman says. “Of the 400 or so first-year UVic students in an incoming class, three were awarded IEEE Victoria Section Gold Medals. This gives an idea of the significance of this award as a testament to Peter’s ability and hard work. We are proud of his accomplishments and that we were able to give him a solid start to his academic success.”

As further evidence of his desire, Feldman points to the successful juggling Kremler was able to manage while a student. In his second year, Kremler took a job as a bartender to support his young family.

“It never seemed to impact his performance as a student,” he says.

The 33-year-old Kremler, husband and father of two daughters, is pleased with the honour he received upon graduating.

“I worked extremely hard throughout this degree, so it’s really nice to have that recognized,” he says. “But I did not achieve this by myself. My wife Jenny worked tirelessly to support me in this, while also taking care of our two daughters, Ruby and Myra. I also had a lot of support from my parents, Francis and Ellie, and my wife’s parents, George and Irene.”

Kremler has decided to continue his studies and complete his Masters’ degree at UVic. In the long-term, however, he and his family would love to be able to return to the West Kootenay once again.

Categories: Education

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