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New B.S. in engineering a response to rising student interest

For more than a decade, high school sophomores and juniors have reported an increased interest in the field of engineering. In some specialties, a 67% increase was seen from 2012 to 2018.

Augustana has answered the call from students across the globe and launched a Bachelor of Science in engineering this fall.

Eng Presser
Augustana College President Steve Bahls addresses the media announcing the new engineering program.

“More and more, students are seeking an accredited engineering program to launch their careers full of natural curiosities and problem solving,” says Dr. Wendy Hilton-Morrow, provost at Augustana. “The opportunity to study engineering at a liberal arts institution is one we know will distinguish Augustana graduates in the workforce.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of engineering is expected to see nearly 140,000 new jobs created by 2026 with the bulk in civil and mechanical specialities — two tracks Augustana will offer. 

The college will complete the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology process in 2025 upon graduating its first student. Students starting at Augustana in the fall of 2021 will be in the first cohort of graduates. Students will study a robust and diverse liberal arts curriculum in the arts, foreign languages, humanities and of course, science disciplines. 

“Studying engineering at Augustana prepares graduates to enter a career with something unique,” says Dr. Nathan Frank, associate professor of physics. “An engineer with a liberal arts background has enhanced perspective, a strong ability to communicate and the distinctive opportunity to make connections where they did not yet exist.” 

Augustana will offer tracks in mechanical and environmental and sustainability engineering — three industries experiencing rapid growth. 

The college reports that the Quad Cities is a prime location to begin an engineering program, citing the Mississippi River and local industries as a natural fit for research and internship opportunities. 

Dr. Mike Augspurger has been selected to help lead the mechanical engineering track. He has been a visiting professor at Augustana for the last two years, working closely with Dr. Frank and Dr. Joshua Dyer, associate professor of engineering physics. The college plans to hire an additional engineering professor in 2022. 

Augustana will maintain a Bachelor of Arts in engineering-physics and 3+2 agreements with Washington University, Northern Illinois University and Columbia University.

“This is a great opportunity for Augustana and for the Quad Cities,” says Dr. Hilton-Morrow. “The world needs Augustana graduates and engineers, and now there is a formal program for both.”

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