Clare Myers, Staff Writer
The University of Dallas plans to offer an engineering degree through a dual degree program with the University of Texas at Arlington starting in fall 2013. Beginning their freshman year, students will be able to take classes at both universities, earning a BA in physics from UD and a BS in electrical engineering from UTA in five years.
“There is a real interest out there among potential UD students for some kind of official engineering program,” said physics professor Dr. Sally Hicks, who helped orchestrate the partnership. “This … is definitely a positive step forward in satisfying that demand.”
The curriculum for the program includes introductory electrical engineering courses at UTA during freshman year.
“This is an effective way of ensuring students truly want to be engineers. It will prepare them well for a future career,” Hicks said. “They will better understand what engineering entails beginning their freshman year. In other words, there should be no surprises about what it means to be an engineer.”
Current UD students are not able to get an undergraduate degree in engineering; those that are interested in the industry usually work towards a bachelor’s degree in physics and go on to earn a master’s degree in a specialized engineering field.
Senior Matt Heuser plans to get a degree in mechanical engineering after leaving UD.“The only reason I didn’t do engineering is because [UD] didn’t have it at the time and I wasn’t sure what kind I wanted to do,” he said.
Fellow senior physics major Jeff Schniederjan also believes that he would not have taken advantage of the opportunity at first.
“I probably would have preferred to just do a whole BS here at UD in physics …That’s because I had no interest in electrical engineering at the time. But looking forward to what I want to do in the future, I now realize it would be the perfect program for me,” he said in an interview with University News editor Louis Hannegan.
According to Dr. Charles W. Eaker, dean of the Constantin College of Liberal Arts at UD, the motivation to create the partnership came from student interest in engineering, a field that includes many majors in high demand today. It is not the university’s first attempt to integrate this popular major into the curriculum. In the past, UD has offered a five-year program with Washington University in St. Louis. Participants spent three years in Irving and two in St. Louis, but it was not an appealing option for many students.
“They had a hard time leaving UD once they came here,” Eaker said, adding that it was also prohibitively expensive. Administrators tried to correct these flaws in constructing the new program.
“We wanted to overcome the problem of not wanting to leave so that students could remain at the University of Dallas and also do engineering courses,” he said. After contacting various schools in the area, Eaker and Hicks discussed possibilities with UTA leadership.
“The UTA EE [electrical engineering] faculty and the Associate Dean of Engineering Dr. Lynn Peterson, responded incredibly well to our suggested curriculum, which includes the UD Core and the Rome experience,” said Hicks. The suggested curriculum includes all the classes normally required at each school for a degree. To participate, students must earn a degree in physics from UD.
The program’s “unique structure,” as Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the UTA College of Engineering, called it in a press release, allows for student flexibility.
“This agreement is a win-win, with students being the beneficiaries,” he said.