In hopes of increasing enrollment and better appealing to the interests of all students, the Pacific University Physics Department is developing a proposal for an engineering program and will present it to President Lesley Hallick on the week of Feb. 19.
According to Physics Department Chair Andy Dawes, conversation surrounding an engineering program proposal for the College of Arts and Science (CAS) began in the summer of 2017.
“The Physics Department heard the Board of Trustees was interested in exploring an engineering program as an option for students,” Dawes said. “So we figured it would be good to come up with some
ideas for a potential program, so we could share those with whoever was interested.”
Dawes, who was selected to head the proposal by the Dean of CAS Sarah Phillips, said the potential engineering program would look similar to the physics degree Pacific currently offers.
“A lot of the classes for the engineering program would be shared with the physics major, so students could come in and take a core set of classes over their first two or three years,” Dawes said. “But then we’d have a few upper division electives that would really make it an engineering degree.”
Though the proposal for the engineering program is still in its draft stages, Dawes said the program would culminate in students receiving a bachelor’s of science degree from Pacific with a major in
Pacific currently offers students who are interested in pursuing a career in engineering the opportunity to enroll in a specialized Three-Plus-Two program, which results in a bachelor’s of science from Pacific, and a bachelor of engineering from a partner school.
“The downside to that type of program, in the eyes of the students, is that they only have three years here at Pacific, and a lot of student like the full four year experience of a liberal arts college,” Dawes said. “To leave right at your senior year isn’t that appealing, so we’d like to provide something to students that addresses that.”
Dawes said an engineering degree paired with a liberal arts education would give potential students
of the proposed program a tremendous leg up in the work world.
“We think it would be a good opportunity to provide a nice well-rounded engineering program, that not
only gives students specialized engineering skills but also a lot of soft skills,” Dawes said. “Communications, solid writing, good teamwork and experience in the sorts of things that today’s employers are looking for.”
According to Dawes, the proposal for the engineering program was structured similarly to the engineering programs at both the University of Portland and George Fox University.
“Both of those programs started the way that we’re trying to start this,” Dawes said. “George Fox University, in particular, started with a small engineering program that came out of the physics
department and grew as the interest increased.”
Dawes said the next step in the process for the proposal is to present to President Hallick and her
“That will be our first round with them,” Dawes said. “And then there’s a lot of paperwork to go through for the college to make sure the program is meeting the standards the college has in place. And we also want to keep an eye on the accreditation board.”
If the proposed program does receive the green light, Dawes said his most optimistic prediction for a potential start date would be in the fall of 2019, if funding is provided.
“I know there’s a lot of interest in engineering,” Dawes said. “So being successful and generating interest from new students, and having more people come to Pacific for all the great programs is really what we’re hoping for.”