Western's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Western Michigan University and Aquinas College have partnered to offer joint degree programs in Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering that will begin in the Fall 2017 semester.

This program will combine the resources of WMU and Aquinas College to provide students with a liberal arts education at a small private college, and the opportunity to do research at a large university.

Aquinas students will have a clear pathway to an engineering career, said Dr. Edmund Tsang, associate dean of WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“The goal is to increase the number of engineers and applied scientists, careers that are in high demand,” Tsang said.

Sister Damien Marie Savino, dean of science and sustainability at Aquinas College, views the program as the best of both worlds for students.

“They will be in small classes and receive personal attention from dedicated Aquinas faculty in their pre-engineering and liberal arts courses - not to mention the strong community,” Sister Savino said. “This should provide a strong foundation for students once they begin taking their more advanced engineering courses at WMU.”

Students who have completed this program will graduate with both an associate of arts degree from Aquinas and a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from WMU, said Sister Savino.

“This should give students an edge in the marketplace,” Savino said.

General education and prerequisite sources are taught at Aquinas while Engineering courses will be taught at WMU in the final two semesters.

This program will provide an education that is entrenched with the Catholic and Dominican tradition of Aquinas but with the resources that WMU can provide.

Students are able to apply for the program at the end of their sophomore year. Aquinas tuition rates will apply for the first two years, and WMU’s tuition rate for Extended University Programs will be applied after that.

This program was born after discussions facilitated by the Extended University Program, who saw a potential market in the Grand Rapids area, said Tsang.

“These discussions have been going on for about two years,” Tsang said.

The Civil Engineering track will follow the Industrial and Entrepreneurial program, in 2018, and discussions are already underway for a future Electrical Engineering program, said Tsang.

“We expect about 20-30 students in each cohort each year when the programs mature,” Tsang said.

All of these programs will focus on design, creativity, and innovation.

Sister Savino expressed that Aquinas is thrilled that the program is no longer just an idea, but is one that is ready to begin receiving students.

“We hope the program will be very successful, and we will judge that success by the benefits it confers on the students, as it is a student-focused program,” Sister Savino said.

The goal is that the program can produce more than just engineers.

“Society needs engineers who are not only technically trained, but who have ethics and values, who can write and communicate and think critically, and who want to serve to make the world a better place,” Sister Savino said.

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