Earlham College is expanding its offerings for students interested in using engineering as a catalyst for good in the world.
Joining Earlham’s nationally recognized pre-engineering program, the College plans to launch an engineering* major in fall 2023. This program builds on Earlham’s traditional strengths in physics, computer science, mathematics, environmental sustainability and the liberal arts to create a distinctive engineering curriculum. The program is intentionally interdisciplinary and will be crafted with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. With this addition, Earlham will become one of only a handful of national liberal arts colleges to make four-year engineering degrees available to students.
“Engineers not only determine how problems are solved, they also have a say in which problems are chosen to be solved,” says Michael Lerner, professor of physics. “Both of these considerations have deep implications for social good and equity. With Earlham’s focus on ‘Engineering for Good’ and our traditions of excellence in the liberal arts and social justice, Earlham engineers will be prepared to address the most pressing challenges of our time with compassion and creativity.”
Earlham’s approach to engineering — with a focus on designing for a better, more sustainable and equitable world — distinguishes it from more specialized programs and provides students with a broad perspective, strong communication skills, and critical thinking that a liberal arts environment fosters. For example, Engineering courses taught in collaboration with the College’s art department, which offers coursework in metals and fabrication, will allow engineering students to learn about design in other contexts and experience different materials and techniques.
Though the program is broadly constructed it has also been designed with future accreditation in mind. Earlham professors are working with the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology so that the necessary steps are taken to ensure full accreditation of the first cohort of Engineering graduates.
New full-time faculty, including a program director, will be hired this coming academic year to support areas not already available in the curriculum. A focus of these new hires will be recruiting a wide range of students, especially those who have been historically underrepresented across engineering disciplines. Earlham’s Center for Science and Technology houses state-of-the-art laboratories and research facilities to support the major. Additionally, certain facilities will be renovated and eventually added to augment specific aspects of the program.
“With our reputation for attracting change-makers the world over, Engineering is a perfect place to expand our curriculum,” says President Anne Houtman, who came to Earlham after serving as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, one of the country’s top engineering schools. “By building on our existing strengths in the sciences and excellence in classroom teaching, we are poised to nurture future generations of engineers who are prepared to use their knowledge and skills to reshape the world as we know it and envision a better future through design.”
Like all Earlham students, engineering majors will benefit from Earlham’s Epic Journey, a four-year framework for success that combines excellence in the classroom with transformative, out-of-the-classroom experiences that prepare students for life after college. The Epic Journey offers every student the chance to participate in at least one funded internship, research experience, or community-based project before graduation.
Demand for engineering degrees has grown rapidly in the last five years — both regionally and nationally. Expanding into a full major was a logical next step for Earlham, given the College’s history of success with its existing 3:2 program in which students spend the last two years of study at partner schools including Columbia University, Washington University of St. Louis, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute or Case Western Reserve University.
Engineering is the latest degree program added to Earlham’s undergraduate curriculum. Earlier this year the College expanded its business program to include an accounting major and added four new concentrations to its computer science program. The College also recently added new majors in social services, creative writing, media and communications, and data science.
*The engineering major is pending final approval from the Higher Learning Commission.