ACU launches Engineering degree, renames department

Posted November 04, 2011

Abilene Christian University will offer a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) degree beginning in Fall 2012.  Courses will be taught by faculty in the newly renamed Department of Engineering and Physics.

The B.S.E. is designed for freshmen who will begin their coursework next year. It is a broad, interdisciplinary degree allowing students to choose elective courses of interest and, later, to specialize in a variety of engineering fields or pursue a specific graduate program.

"This move culminates discussion we’ve been engaged in for nearly two years as we've evaluated the benefit of offering general engineering," says Dr. Jeanine Varner, provost of the university. "We've seen a steady increase in prospective students interested in engineering over the past five years. Our decision to launch this new degree positions us to better serve them."

The new engineering program is pending anticipated final approval by SACSCOC (Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). It has been thoroughly vetted at the university, and is based in part on information gathered by a 2010 feasibility study led by Dr. Robert Mitchell (former dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla), who served as a consultant. UM-Rolla is one of the top engineering schools in the nation.

"We're excited about how this new degree will help students who wish to pursue the study of engineering at ACU," says Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university. "Being able to offer the degree also will help us attract even more high-quality students."

A few facts:

  • The B.S.E. degree is not offered by other universities affiliated with the Churches of Christ. Other leading public/private institutions offering a B.S.E. include Dartmouth, Harvey-Mudd, and Calvin colleges.
  • A new report from reports that eight of the top 10 best-paying college majors are in the closely related fields of engineering and physics.
  • Abilene Christian already has agreements in place with graduate engineering schools such as Texas Tech University, which guarantees admittance for students who successfully complete ACU's undergraduate program in engineering physics.
  • ACU has one of the top undergraduate physics program in the world, with unprecedented opportunities for research at top national labs and private firms. Engineering majors will be able to find similar opportunities alongside physics majors, or find new ones by capitalizing on ACU’s outstanding reputation in science and industry.

"Abilene Christian really is the world leader in involving undergrads in research," says Dr. Rusty Towell, professor and chair of the department of Engineering and Physics. "Students can attend any number of colleges and universities around the country where they’ll receive a good education, but you won’t find another institution where there is a history involving undergrads in real world-class research the way we do it at ACU."

The B.S.E. program will be pursuing accreditation from ABET, Inc. (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) beyond the accreditation already in place for the broader university through SACSCOC. The new accreditation, once secured, will apply retroactively to all B.S.E. graduates from ACU.

 Students interested in applying for courses in the Department of Engineering and Physics are encouraged to take as many high school and college-credit level math courses as possible, up to and including Pre-Calculus.