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Development Of Engineering As A Liberal Arts Major

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.152.1 - 1.152.6



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James D. van Putten Jr.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

I .— - . . . ..-. Session 3661 ‘

—.. - Development of Engineering as a Liberal Arts Major

James D. van Putten Jr. Hope College, Holland, Michigan

Abstract A major in engineering has been developed at a liberal arts- college in conformance with other liberal arts majors. The major is designed to prepare students for direct entry into graduate programs in engineering. This paper describes the development process and some of the difficulties encountered.

Introduction In recent years there has been a movement to increase the liberal arts component of engineering education. This is seen in the devotion of an entire issue of PRISM [l] to the relationship between Engineering and the Liberal Arts. There has also been a growing interest in introducing engineering to liberal arts students. Major programs in this area fall under the heading of Engineering and the New Liberal Arts[2]. In these, the approach has been to either add liberal arts to the standard engineering curriculum or to add literacy in engineering to the standard liberal arts curriculum. We have taken a different approach. We are attempting to construct a unified engineering major as a standard major at a liberal arts college. That is, the engineering major at Hope College is a liberal arts degree. The effort is being supported internally by Hope College and by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education. Hope College has a total enrollment of 2900 undergraduate students. Approximately 40% of the freshmen indicate that a science is their intended major. The sciences include Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geology, Mathematics, Nursing, Physics and Engineering. The sciences at Hope College have had a long history in preparing students for graduate and professional school. Undergrad- uate research is an important component of the science curriculum. The Department of Physics and Engineering has been awarded more than $300,000 per year in externally funded grants since 1988. The primary goal of the Engineering Major at Hope College is to prepare students for direct entry into graduate school in the engineering speciality of their choice. To enable the students to have adequate preparation in a four year program in which the engineering major must conform to the standards for all other liberal arts majors, significant curricular choices have been made. Guidance in these choices have been provided through: 1) advice from a consulting group of academic engineers, 2) visits to traditional and non-traditional engineering schools, and 3) discussion with graduate school faculty members as to the preparation really needed for graduate study. The program at Hope College is attracting more students every year which indicates student interest. The accept ability of the program .

---- 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ‘O.+,yyy’j

van Putten Jr., J. D. (1996, June), Development Of Engineering As A Liberal Arts Major Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5978

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