At the DFI 32nd Annual Conference in October, 2007, Charles J. Berkel, chairman of the board of Berkel & Company Contractors, Inc. generously committed $1 million to the DFI Educational Trust to create a scholarship endowment fund. The fund was originally known as the Berkel & Company Contractors, Inc. Scholarship Fund. In 2013, after Mr. Berkel passed away, it was renamed The Charles J. Berkel Memorial Scholarship Fund.
A minimum of $50,000 is given in scholarships from this fund annually. Currently four universities receive $12,500 each per year from the Scholarship Fund: University of California at Berkeley; University of Illinois; Auburn University in Alabama; and the University of Houston. Each university determines whether the entire $12,500 scholarship amount received goes to one student or whether it is shared among several recipients.
Charles J. Berkel (1925-2013)
Charles J. Berkel graduated from the University of Illinois in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. A year later he began his career in deep foundation construction working for Intrusion-Prepakt in Chicago. During his employment there he was the project engineer for the first commercial project supported on ACIP piles in the United States. In 1959 he resigned from Prepakt and started his own company specializing in Pressure Grouting and the installation of Auger Pressure Grouted (APG) piles. Over the decades, he grew the company to become one of the largest piling contractors in the U.S.
Some of his noteworthy accomplishments along the way are: designing and constructing of equipment needed for APG piles; 1996 business expansion to include a separate division for Sheeting, Shoring and Underpinning; patents for equipment, and tools for safety and efficiency in field operations; and development of the APG Displacement pile.
Berkel was a Charter Member of DFI, a recipient of the 2007 DFI Distinguished Service Award, and a major donor to the DFI Educational Trust Scholarship Program. He died on November 4, 2013 at age 88.