When the first recipient of LHPU’s Josh Speidel Scholarship learned the background of the award, it hit home personally.

Courtney Holland’s brother and several of his friends had been in an auto accident on Interstate 69, when a semi truck fell on top of their car. Fortunately, no serious injuries occurred.

That incident has similarities to what happened to Josh Speidel of Columbus, whose Feb. 1, 2015 auto accident on U.S. 31 near Taylorsville caused a traumatic brain injury and other bodily injuries. The former local high school basketball star has made significant strides, however, and is now on his own in college.

Holland said the two accidents give her purpose.

“We should do anything we can to mitigate the risk (of accidents). It’s kind of our responsibility as engineers. It’s important to make a difference,” said Holland, 27, of Indianapolis.

She earned an engineering degree from IUPUI and had intended to use it for a career designing rides for theme parks. She even had an internship with Disney World. However, that didn’t provide the satisfaction she desired in a career, Holland said, so she shifted her engineering focus to the automotive industry.

Holland said she applied to LHPU to gain important practical knowledge of the electronic control systems of gas- and diesel-powered engines, and functional safety industry standards needed for self-driving vehicles, so that she’d have a better chance of getting a job in the industry.

The $12,000 Speidel scholarship helps, Holland said, because she’s had to pay for college herself.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.