Engineering department to expand at Olivet
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Bourbonnais, Illinois
Olivet Nazarene University's engineering majors will soon enjoy new, state-of-the-art facilities that will rival those offered at some of the largest, top-tier engineering programs in the U.S.

Plans to accommodate the growing program include transforming two lecture halls in Reed Hall of Science into engineering design labs, and constructing a new three-story wing on the building dedicated to the study of technology and innovation.

One of the fastest growing programs at Olivet, the Department of Engineering has gone from 50 engineering students just five years ago to 115 today.

Department Chair Kenneth Johnson said that there are multiple factors contributing to the boom, including market trends.

"Students who may not have traditionally taken on the challenge of engineering are majoring in it because of the higher likelihood of job placement," he said. "The demand for engineers is high, and the starting pay right out of college is quite lucrative."

As Olivet's reputation grows, the program continues to draw prospective students.

"The program is increasingly being recognized as a very solid engineering program," he said. "Our job placement rate for graduates is extremely high, and the feedback I’ve had from companies that have hired our graduates is unanimously positive. The buzz is building."

Johnson believes Olivet is carving out a unique niche among undergraduate engineering programs.

"At larger schools, engineering is not a great undergraduate degree," he said. "You’re taught by graduate assistants without much access to faculty, and you don’t get to do cool research.

"At Olivet, our entire focus is on the undergraduate student, and so it truly feels like a graduate-level experience. Our students are doing research. They’re collaborating with faculty and industry. They’re getting the opportunity to explore and to use advanced equipment that really prepares them to succeed in the workforce."

He also said Olivet’s approach is particularly appealing to Christian engineering students.

"Engineering, at its core, seeks to leverage a deeper understanding of the working of God’s physical creation for some useful purpose," Johnson said. "We're seeking students who are mission-minded, who catch that vision, and are passionate about engineering with a purpose."

Originally constructed in 1966, Reed Hall of Science is also home to the departments of biological sciences and physical sciences. Preparation work is already underway for the multi-phase construction project, with demolition of Reed’s lecture halls set to begin in March. The new engineering labs will be in use for the fall 2013 semester, and completion of the engineering wing is set for fall 2014. The final phase will involve renovating the vacated space for more optimal use by the other departments.

"It’s really a classic win-win," Johnson said. "This project will provide much-needed facilities for engineering students, and will also free up additional space for biological sciences and physical sciences." 
--Olivet Nazarene University
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