Sam Hodel, a 2020 winner of the contest, passed away after a short battle with cancer.

Sam HodelSam Hodel, an applications engineering manager at GPM, Inc., lost his battle with cancer in December at just 30 years old.

GPM's blog states that "Sam was always positive and humble in his work. He was eager to let others shine and helped to 'engineer' GPM, Inc. into the organization it is today. He was dedicated to his craft and was a committed lifelong learner who continually educated himself and others. Sam was always ready to find a solution for any customer challenge and was an integral part of the GPM team."

In December, Pumps & Systems magazine honored Hodel as one of the 10 Pump Professionals to Watch and wrote about his promising career in the industry. He started off his time at GPM, Inc., as an intern in 2012 while still in his senior year at the University of Duluth-Minnesota, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. He then joined the company full-time in 2013 as a service engineer, moving up to an applications engineering manager, a role he held for three years. “Over the years, Sam has excelled in every engineering role and department that he worked in including service, safety, OEM manufacturing and now applications engineering,” Blake Kolquist, GPM’s marketing director, said during an interview for the 10 to Watch feature. “Sam has worked tirelessly to continue learning and applying that knowledge with an emphasis in electric submersible motors, vibration analytics, condition monitoring, FMEA [failure mode and effects analysis], and more.”

Hodel had been leading the engineering team on large-scale custom slurry and dewatering pumping projects beginning with concept design work, engineering, all the way through manufacturing, commissioning, startup and condition monitoring. Hodel had a Cat Level II vibration analyst certificate and also assisted in training members of the GPM service and field service team on condition monitoring, failure analysis and quality control. He was a member of the Engineers Club of Northern Minnesota.

“Sam continues to educate himself, his teammates and our customers on the latest industry trends, best practices and also new technologies and tools, all of which are in the best interests of the end users and the industry in general,” Kolquist said in that previous interview.

The company's blog states that "everyone who had the privilege of knowing or working with Sam is in shock of the rapid progression of this illness. We honor his many contributions to GPM, and the positive impacts and memories he created as a wonderful husband, son, brother, uncle and friend to all. His work as a skilled mechanical engineer will live on for years, and his memory will reside in our hearts forever.

Gifts in memory of Hodel can be made to the UMD Sam Hodel Scholarship online at or by sending a check made payable to the University of Minnesota Foundation to UMD Development Office, 104 Darland Administration Building, 1049 University Drive, Duluth, MN 55812. Either way, please include a notation that the gift is for the Sam Hodel Scholarship.