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Posthumous degree awarded during virtual winter commencement celebration

During the 2020 virtual winter commencement celebration, North Dakota State University will award a posthumous bachelor’s degree to Pierce Kvien, a mechanical engineering major, who died Aug. 15.

Kvien was on the dean’s list and on track to receive his degree on Friday, Dec. 18.

“Pierce was a gifted student who was well-liked by his fellow classmates and highly respected by the faculty in the mechanical engineering department,” said Alan Kallmeyer, professor and chair of NDSU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “He embodied all that we look for in an engineer…an inquisitive nature, a motivation to succeed and a desire to improve the world around us. Above all else, he demonstrated professionalism and integrity in his pursuit of a degree from NDSU. I have no doubt Pierce would have had a lasting impact on society through his contributions as a mechanical engineer.”

Kvien’s family will accept his degree on his behalf.

“As a family, we would give anything to have Pierce back on earth with us and to be watching him graduate from NDSU,” said Kristi Bergstrom, Kvien’s mother. “Since the night Pierce was tragically and senselessly killed, we have been amazed and supported by the outpouring of love and admiration for Pierce from his close friends and family, classmates, and co-workers and mentors at Polaris and Com-Del Innovations. He was an amazingly accomplished 22-year-old man who worked hard to achieve his goals no matter how big or small, and he was so close to the finish line of earning his mechanical engineering degree from NDSU.

“Recognition of Pierce’s educational achievements at NDSU would not have been possible without Eric Borud, senior staff engineer in the government and defense division at Polaris in Roseau, Minnesota. Eric put together a presentation that highlighted Pierce’s accomplishments as an intern over several summers at Polaris and sent it to the NDSU College of Engineering, requesting that Pierce be awarded his degree in mechanical engineering. We want to thank the College of Engineering, the mechanical engineering department and the President of NDSU for granting this request.

Always earned, never given.”


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Vice President for University Relations
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-1068 - Fax: (701) 231-1989
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