In summary

  • The Pio Iovenitti Engineering Excellence Scholarship was established in memory of Swinburne Associate Professor Pio Iovenitti, by his widow Marisa Iovenitti and their friends in the School of Engineering
  • International student and inaugural recipient of the scholarship, Sebastian Villarraga, met with Marisa Iovenitti to thank her for the life-changing support
  • The scholarship supports students studying a Master of Engineering Science at Swinburne

Following the unexpected passing of her husband Pio in June 2020, Marisa Iovenitti and the School of Engineering established the Pio Iovenitti Engineering Excellence Scholarship in honour of Pio and the dedication he had for his work and students at Swinburne University of Technology. 

Associate Professor Pio Iovenitti was a well-respected and revered engineer, teacher, mentor and friend for many within both the Swinburne and broader engineering communities. More than that, he was the much-loved husband to Marisa.  

‘I could go on and on about my gorgeous Pio. We were married for over 40 years, and I really miss him,’ Marisa said.   
‘He was born in Italy and came to Australia as a five-year-old with no English, he went to local schools in Melbourne, before completing his engineering degree at RMIT, Master’s at Monash and PhD at Swinburne, where he taught engineering for 35 years – up until his passing.’ 

Associate Professor Pio Iovenitti graduated at Swinburne in 1997.

A scholarship in memory of Pio

The Pio Iovenitti Engineering Excellence Scholarship was created in collaboration with Marisa Iovenitti, and close friends and colleagues of Pio’s. 

The ongoing scholarship program provides generous financial assistance to support one Master of Engineering Science student each year.

Marisa said she is pleased to have this scholarship in her husband’s name and, for his memory to contribute to and support future engineers. 

‘Pio was a quiet, humble man, and he would be so proud to know his years at Swinburne have been acknowledged with this scholarship. We did not have children of our own, but I know how much he enjoyed teaching his students who were trying hard, and I often heard comments from Pio on how tough it is to study and work to survive and to pay tuition,’ she said.

‘Pio loved the engineering work and teaching…and I know he was so aware of the discipline his own students had to go through and always felt for them. My main reason for establishing the scholarship is so my husband's name is not forgotten. Pio said many times he was lucky to do the work he enjoyed, and he was grateful for what his experiences were and often said he had a great job,’ she said.

Life-changing scholarship support 

In 2021, Colombian student Sebastian Villarraga became the inaugural recipient of the Pio Iovenitti Engineering Excellence Scholarship.  

Sebastian arrived in Melbourne at the start of 2020 to commence his Master of Engineering Science. Having navigated the many challenges COVID-19 brought to his first year of studies, he was overjoyed to receive the scholarship to support his second year of study. 

Sebastian met with Marisa and some of Pio’s colleagues in December 2021 to acknowledge and thank them for the support during a difficult year. 

‘It was a joy to meet Sebastian. He was so happy and thankful for the financial assistance, which is helping him achieve one of the many goals he will have in his engineering career. He is a worthy recipient and I wish him well for the future,’ Marisa said. 

Sebastian told Swinburne he now encourages other students to seek scholarship support and expressed how life-changing a scholarship can really be. 

‘Having the Swinburne scholarship gave me peace of mind to face my studies, knowing that I had financial support from the university – all thanks to Pio’s family and friends,’ he said. 

‘COVID changed all of our lives and the normal processes we developed. It was challenging to get a part-time job, and with the passing of the quarantine, it became more difficult to earn money. I definitely want to live in Australia for a long time. I am planning to get a fantastic job related to Structural Engineering, gaining more experience while travelling around this beautiful country.’

Sebastian Villarraga (left) graduated in December 2021. 

Sebastian hopes all students review the scholarships available at Swinburne. 

‘There are plenty of opportunities to apply within different fields and for different student profiles. Try it. It can support your dreams.’ 

Visit our Scholarships page to learn more about scholarship opportunities at Swinburne. 

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