Foundation for Innovation - Exceptional Education Fall/Winter 2017
December 21, 2017
On October 4, 1846, 23-year-old Orville Nelson Hartshorn had a vision for an institution where “science would parallel the humanities.” More than 171 years later, STEM-related programs at the University of Mount Union continue to grow while the institution remains deeply rooted in the liberal arts tradition.
Mount Union’s commitment to STEM growth continued in May of 2009 when the University announced the addition of programs in civil and mechanical engineering. After eight years, four classes of engineering graduates, and accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, Mount Union is excited to announce the addition of three new programs beginning in the fall of 2018: biomedical engineering, computer engineering, and electrical engineering.
“One of the major distinguishing features of the engineering programs at Mount Union is the leveraging of the liberal arts and business with engineering to graduate innovative leaders,” said Dr. Osama Jadaan, professor and chair of the Department of Engineering. “We take pride in the fact that our engineering graduates are not just technologically prepared for their professional careers but are also effective communicators. The liberal arts, ranging from the social sciences to the fine arts, provide our students with the critical thinking and communication skills necessary to lead and innovate in the real world.”
Biomedical engineering is one of the fastest growing engineering fields in the market today. The program at Mount Union will integrate engineering principles and design concepts with medical and biological sciences to advance healthcare treatment. One of the unique partnerships students in this major will have at their disposal involves collaboration with faculty and students from Mount Union’s physical therapy and physician assistant studies programs.
“After my involvement in the strategic planning process, I can tell you that cultivating an innovative and collaborative academic environment is at the core of Mount Union’s strategy to lead, collaborate, and innovate,” said Dr. Matt Volansky, assistant professor of physical therapy. “The development of interdisciplinary academic partnerships is not about collaboration for collaboration’s sake; it’s about improving health, and creating support systems, and trying different models of practice. It is also about intentionally supporting current developing professionals and indirectly supporting patients, families, and communities.”
Through hands-on preparation, students in the major will learn key skills for post-graduate success in areas including: biomechanics, bioinstrumentation, biomaterials, rehabilitation engineering, and systems physiology.
The world as we know it would be drastically different without the pioneering work of computer engineers. Though Mount Union has had a successful computer science program for years, the implementation of a computer engineering major gives students the chance to dive deeper into hardware, software, and coding from many different angles.
Students will gain insight into networks and mobile computing; signal, image, and speech processing; and system architecture, among many other skills through collaboration with the Department of Computer Science.
“Mount Union’s computer engineering major is designed to foster an innovative mindset and develop crucial knowledge to successfully impact this rewarding and high-paying field,” said Jadaan.
“The Department of Computer Science is excited to have new majors in the Department of Engineering starting up next year,” said Blase Cindric, associate professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science. “The computer engineering students will take several computer science courses for their major. We are excited to welcome these new students to our courses and look forward to working with them in exploring interesting and innovative computing ideas.”
Electrical engineering is one of the most in-demand fields, and is an imperative part of today’s ever-changing and innovative technological society. Without the work of those in the electrical engineering field, there would be no leftovers from the refrigerator, two-dozen television shows waiting for consumption on our DVRs, or important technological advances in healthcare such as the pacemaker or CT scanner.
“The electrical engineering degree is designed to offer students the crucial and influential knowledge to impact this in-demand field,” Jadaan said. “As with computer and biomedical engineering, we are in the process of assembling an outstanding group of faculty with expertise in the many fields that make up electrical engineering such as power, controls, telecommunications, and microelectronics.”
Electrical engineering students at Mount Union will apply valuable classroom foundations through practical experiments and off-campus internships. Some of the emphases they can pursue include: electronics and communications, controls, or power and energy engineering.
The four pillars of exceptional engineering education (see page 16) not only advance the program-specific knowledge base of students in the department, they also provide the groundwork for strong written and oral communication skills, which are often overlooked by larger institutions.
Mount Union’s Department of Engineering, much like its students, is constantly innovating to become an industry leader while never losing sight of the liberal arts foundation that helped it grow into the success it is today.
Civil and Mechanical Engineering Build on Success
Since its first group of students stepped onto campus in 2010, the Department of Engineering’s two initial programs in civil engineering and mechanical engineering have grown into two of the most sought-after programs at the University of Mount Union.
Much of that intrigue amongst prospective students comes from the current demand for engineers in a number of industries. Combined with Mount Union’s liberal arts foundations and the four pillars of exceptional engineering education, the department gives students a number of hands-on opportunities outside of the classroom to gain the skills employers desire.
Each year since 2013, the department has taken students on an international engineering experience in Belize to design and build real-world projects to be used in the country.
Back in Alliance, students also have the chance to get involved with several organizations on and off campus to further their engineering education and collaborate with peers. Some of those include the VX Robotics team, Society of Automotive Engineering Baja Car team, and the Society for Women Engineers, in addition to volunteering with Habitat for Humanity by assisting in building homes.
This past spring, the department introduced the first Engineering Design Expo on campus. The expo gave students the opportunity to display projects to members of the community, some of whom were local industry leaders in engineering. Design projects that were presented at the expo included a robotic football team, an electric powered paraglider, an adaptable prosthetic leg, a filterless vacuum, a hops harvester, a Baja vehicle, and a GeoWall, among others.
Though the department is more than doubling in majors offered, continued focus and development will not be lost on these two incredibly successful programs that are now a staple of Mount Union’s academic offerings.