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History of the Engineering Program

Engineering courses have been offered at Hope College since 1979. Initial offerings were instituted by the Department of Physics in response to academic interests of students who were majoring in physics but whose career goals were in engineering. At that time, two faculty members, with interests and training in engineering, began offering a limited number of courses in basic mechanical and electrical engineering topics. During the decade of the 1980s, these courses included Solid Mechanics, Electronics, Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Material Science, and Vibrations. This curriculum was designed and intended to prepare students for graduate study in engineering. Another option for engineering students is the Hope College Engineering 3-2 Program in which students combine three years of study at Hope College with two years at a traditional engineering school. Upon successful completion of this program, students receive a Bachelor of Science degree from Hope College and a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the engineering school.

During the mid to late 1980s, the Department of Physics recognized that the current engineering offerings were not providing enough depth of coverage to ensure student success in graduate engineering studies. For this reason, a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Engineering Physics was established in 1989. The objective of this degree program was to improve the preparation of Physics students for continuing on in engineering graduate school. In order to meet the requirements of this new major, the curriculum was modified to offer engineering courses on an alternate year basis. This arrangement allowed efficient use of the existing engineering faculty to provide students with a course pattern which more closely resembled that of a traditional four-year engineering school. As a result of these improvements to the engineering curriculum, the popularity of the 3-2 Program diminished as a majority of engineering students decided to remain at Hope College for four years to pursue a major in Engineering Physics. Most of these students continued their studies in engineering graduate school, although a fair number of students began pursuing employment in industry directly from Hope College.

In order to provide the students with an introductory engineering laboratory experience in strength of materials, mechanical testing laboratory equipment was purchased, and a laboratory component to the solid mechanics and materials courses was added in 1992.

In 1994, the engineering faculty increased to four members through the addition of two new hires. This growth was partially supported by a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-secondary Education (FIPSE, administered by the Department of Education), which was granted to the college to develop a model for engineering programs at liberal arts colleges. The educational objectives of this expansion were to implement a capstone engineering design experience, provide core engineering classes on an every-year basis, and to increase the number of engineering topics courses offered. These objectives were successfully achieved with the implementation of several changes, including: the development of a two-course capstone sequence in engineering design (ENGS 451, 452); the switch of core engineering classes (ENGS 345, 346) from alternate year to every year basis; the development of a freshmen engineering course (ENGS 100); and the offering of topics courses in engineering (Finite Element Analysis, Multi-body Dynamics, Advanced CAD/CAE).

From 1994 to 1997, as part of the FIPSE-sponsored study of the Engineering Program, a number of external reviewers from both small and large engineering colleges served as external advisors to the Engineering Program. Reviewers completed campus visits in order to assess the Engineering Program. Based partly on the largely positive reviews of the Engineering Program, the Department requested permission from the administration of Hope College to pursue an accredited engineering degree. The motivation for pursuing accreditation was to further improve the quality of engineering education at Hope College by formally implementing a system of continuous improvement via both internal and external review and assessment. The Administration of Hope College approved the pursuit of an accredited engineering program in 1997, and the Department established a new degree designation: the Bachelor of Science with a Major in Engineering. This new engineering major was designed and intended to fulfill the degree requirements as specified by the ABET 2000 criteria. It was decided to retain the less rigorous engineering degree (which is not accredited and for which no accreditation is sought) the Bachelor of Science with a major in Engineering Science. This degree provides engineering education for students who have other interests, such as a second major in another degree program, that preclude their ability to complete the engineering major requirements within their time at Hope College. Also in 1997, a fifth engineering faculty member was hired to continue building ties with local industry, to increase offerings in engineering topics courses (heat transfer and a thermofluids laboratory), and to provide necessary support for implementing assessment and outcomes instruments as required by ABET 2000 criteria. In 1998 the Hope College Curriculum Committee officially approved the new engineering major, and the Department of Physics changed its name to The Department of Physics and Engineering.

The engineering program completed and submitted a self-study and underwent an accreditation visit and review during the Fall 1999 semester. In 2000, the Bachelor of Science with a major in Engineering was accredited by the Engineering Commission of ABET, 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Balti,ore, MD 21202-4012, telephone: (410) 347-7700.

In recent years, the department filled vacancies by hiring faculty members with expertise in electrical engineering, chemical engineering, and civil engineering. Additional elective engineering topics courses were added to allow students to select among emphasis options in mechanical, electrical, chemical, computer, or biochemical engineering. Currently, engineering is the 6th most popular area of interest listed by students applying to Hope College.