Thursday, July 24, 2014

OU launching new engineering program

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 3/21/2014

Ottawa University’s newest program was engineered by someone relatively new to the campus: Terry Haines.

Haines, OU provost, joined the university in October and quickly got moving on building an engineering program on the college campus, 1001 S. Cedar St., Dennis Tyner, dean of the applied science division at the university, said.

Ottawa University’s newest program was engineered by someone relatively new to the campus: Terry Haines.

Haines, OU provost, joined the university in October and quickly got moving on building an engineering program on the college campus, 1001 S. Cedar St., Dennis Tyner, dean of the applied science division at the university, said.

“It was Terry Haines who really came forward this year, and Terry asked me if I would be interested in building an engineering program for the college here at this particular campus,” Tyner said. “If I was crediting one person who really got the ball rolling, it would be Terry Haines.”

Before Haines’ arrival, he said, Tyner and Jeff McCreight, OU assistant professor of mathematics, discussed developing the university’s existing pre-engineering program.

“Jeff and I had a conversation a couple of years ago about sort of rebuilding a program we had listed on our books, but it really wasn’t a program,” he said. “That was the pre-engineering program. There was nothing going on at our school that was pre-engineering, I will tell you that factually. Jeff, who has an engineering background like myself, came and spoke to me about looking to building out this pre-engineering program and, long story short, we ran into several snags in the process of that.

“Last year, Jeff and I began having a conversation about, if not pre-engineering, how about engineering?” Tyner said.

With Haines, McCreight and Beverly Rodgers, OU dean of arts and sciences, working together, the university now plans to offer a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree, beginning in the fall.

The new program will not focus on a specific type of engineering, Tyner said, but instead l give students a “flavor” of several areas of engineering. The university is set to offer an array of liberal arts courses, core courses in engineering, hands-on laboratories, and practical and theoretical mathematics courses. The program will conclude with a senior-level design course in the student’s final semester in which he or she is expected to apply the skills and knowledge gained throughout the academic experience to the solution of an open-ended problem. Students also will be encouraged to intern at an engineering firm while in the program, according to a press release from Ottawa University.

“If you take a look at the entire curriculum, there is course work that centers on a little bit of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering,” Tyner said. “It is a general-type engineering degree and doesn’t have any particular depth within one of those, but has a flavor of each of those.”

Tyner, who is in his eighth year at OU, said the development of the engineering program is focused on the Ottawa campus, but he will be working to expand the program to the university’s other locations, as well as online.

“We have our eyes on a university-wide engineering program that can be delivered online,” Tyner said. “The engineering program has been approved university-wide and can be delivered at any of our sites or online, but I will tell you I have not designed this for online environment right now. We would have to look at how we are going to deliver laboratories in the online environment. I am going to be looking at that over the next year.”

Some incoming students already have shown interest in the program, he said.

“I’ve had a conversation with four students already, and I know for sure two are transferring over to the new program,” Tyner said. “The intent was not to take students who were in other programs already. We certainly want to service them if they have an interest, but that was not the original intent. The design was to entice new students.  

“The way I see it is, we’ve been looking to grow enrollment at the college and we’ve been trying to do that in a variety of different ways. This is really the first academic program to come out of that, and I think that is a big step for the college.”

Ottawa University previously offered an engineering program, but it was at least 50 years ago, Tyner said.

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