The academic institutions of OCU aim to supply students with an all-around, culturing education. It is for this reason that OCU partnered with Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, to create liberally educated engineering majors.
The partnership allows students to spend two to three years at OCU to receive a liberal arts education. Then, after their junior or senior year, students enter WU for their undergraduate degree in engineering.
With one additional year of study at WU, a student can go on to earn a master’s degree in engineering if enrolled in the three-year graduate option.
The partnership was approved in October and will be initiated in Fall 2017.
“In the past, we’ve had students who realized that they wanted to do engineering, but we could only give them the option of completing their bachelor’s degree and then going somewhere else,” said Dr. Stephen Prilliman, liaison officer for pre-engineering at OCU. “We wanted to give students the opportunity to pursue engineering coming out of OCU, and this partnership allows us to do that through a partnership with one of the best engineering schools in the country.”
There are practical benefits of a degree like this, said Chris Kroeger, associate dean of engineering at WU. The program gives students more opportunity to complete multiple degrees in other areas, as well as more time to pursue other extracurricular or non-academic interests. These advantages, as well as the seven different disciplines in which an engineering major can study, give the dual degree partnership a high potency for multiple, varied usages, Kroeger said.
“Our informational material describes the Dual Degree Program as an attractive alternative to traditional engineering curricula,” Kroeger said.
“Program graduates would be liberally educated engineers, with strong communication and problem-solving skills, a broad background in the humanities and social sciences, as well as a high-quality technical education.”
In a world becoming more and more industrially and technologically complex, the demand for engineers is high. This is true for Oklahoma in particular, and companies are often more comfortable hiring from schools already in Oklahoma, Kroeger said.
Ryan Sturdy, engineering sophomore at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, said a degree from an Oklahoman campus paired with a high-caliber study out of state would equip an engineering student well for a local market.
“It’s always good to have some affiliation with a local university simply due to familiarity,” he said. “Business owners know what they’re getting when they hire graduates from these schools, and the quality of education is almost always high.”