Engineering Added to College Programming

Posted by Paula Paine on March 18, 2014 in On February 11, 2014, OU’s University Academic Council approved the addition of a Bachelor of Science in Engineering to its academic line-up at The College beginning fall of 2014.

The new major will combine a liberal arts curriculum with the fundamental coursework in the field of engineering, allowing students to participate in a powerful academic experience that will help them develop not only the technical skills that are expected of all engineers, but also the soft skills often missing from an engineer’s education – skills that will set them apart from their peers.

In combination with hands-on laboratories and practical and theoretical mathematics courses, the students’ engineering education will culminate in a senior-level design course in which they are expected to apply the skills and knowledge they’ve gained throughout their academic experience to the solution of an open-ended problem. To gain valuable industrial experience during their time in the engineering program, students will also be encouraged to intern at a partner engineering firm, which will allow them to put their education into practice in a real-world setting.
Dr. Dennis Tyner is the founder of the University’s engineering program and serves as its dean of applied sciences. “Ottawa University’s engineering program will provide its students with an exceptional experience that immerses them in the school’s highly regarded liberal arts curriculum supplemented with a mix of broad based engineering coursework,” says Tyner. “The program will couple the strengths and advantages of a liberal arts education with an engineering education to prepare its graduates to consider the well-being of the world and humankind as they develop solutions to the technological challenges that lie ahead.”

This is consistent with market needs within the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) segment as outlined by Dr. Brian C. Mitchell, director of the Edvance Foundation, in a February 17, 2014, Huffington Post article titled “Show Me the Money: Higher Education and the Workforce”:

“American employers must be more clear about what skills they seek and will need. Employers value the ability to articulate, write, apply quantitative methods, use technology, and work in collaborative settings as the foundational prerequisites for employment. As such, they must become the most vocal supporters of a liberal arts education which does these things for them.

“Pure and simple - it’s what liberal arts graduates bring to the table. And, it’s the value added that makes STEM graduates exposed to a liberal arts education outstanding employees.”

By helping students learn to understand people as well as systems, speak and write effectively, and look at things from multiple perspectives, Ottawa University ensures that graduates don’t become engineers stereotyped as poor communicators and collaborators.

“I was so excited to hear that Ottawa University is going to be offering an engineering degree next year, and as soon as it is available, I plan to change my major,” says junior Ryan Kramer. “The options at OU are almost endless, so the introduction of the engineering degree will open up yet another opportunity for me and other individuals in a school that provides all the one-on-one with faculty you could ever want. That and knowing I will learn to communicate with people across lots of professions are two things that excite me the most about this major.”

Research indicates that within 150 miles of Kansas City, there are approximately two engineering jobs for every one applicant. When expanded to the eight surrounding states, the ratio rises to more than 3:1. The average starting salary for general engineers in the Plains States ranges from $50,000 to $73,000, compared to $35,000-$50,000 for graduates in most other disciplines. If engineers go on to graduate school, their entry-level earning potential surges by at least 10 percent.