The Department of Engineering is a step closer to being established in the 2012-2013 school year.
Faculty members of the Department of Physics are working together to develop the Department of Engineering, which will be housed in the Foster Science Building along with the physics department. They are now focusing on hiring a professor and applying for academic accreditation, said Dr. Rusty Towell, chair of the physics department.
“There is an overlap in undergraduate physics and engineering classes, so it is not a big stretch for us to begin offering a engineering degree,” Towell said.
Towell said the planning of the department began in 2010 and is coming along as scheduled. The faculty submitted an applicationÂ for academic accreditation approval. Once the department receives the approval, engineering classes will be added to the 2012-2013 class catalog.
Not all of the engineering classes will be finished by then, but Towell said the core classes are the same for a physics degree, so there will be enough time for upper-level classes to finish developing before the incoming freshman reach that level.
“By offering a general engineering degree students can pick any field,” said Dr. Donald Isenhower, associate professor of physics. “It gives them flexibility.”
With the support of the physics’ faculty, the university decided to hire one new engineering professor. Towell said the department began advertising and receiving applications for the position. This person would be responsible for continuing to develop the department.
Towell said once the program is operating the faculty will decide whether more staff should be hired.
“Student demand will decide if more faculty will be needed,” Towell said.
Students are currently able to prepare for careers in engineering at ACU even though the engineering department has not been completed. The Department of Physics offers sub-fields such as pre-engineering, engineering science and engineering physics.
“Students can also get a physics degree and then go to graduate school for engineering,” Towell said.
The physics department has agreements with many engineering graduate schools, such as Texas Tech, which guarantees admittance for students majoring in physics and maintaining a high standard of grades.
While the physics department offers many options, Dr. Michael Daugherity, associate professor of physics, said not offering a bachelor’s in general engineering hurts the university.
“Literally dozens of great students walk away from ACU each year because we don’t offer what they want,” Daugherity said.
Engineering careers include some of the top paid positions, making it one of the most sought-after degree fields, according to the ACU Physics blog.
“This is an opportunity to add a large number of high-scoring students,” Isenhower said.
Towell said potential students would be more likely to attend to attend ACU if it had an engineering department.
“There is a unanimous agreement that this is a good thing for the department, college and especially students,” Towell said.