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The University of La Verne has partnered with Washington University School of Engineering to offer a dual degree program pairing engineering with another liberal arts discipline.
Two students have already applied to the program, which was started last summer.
Vanessa Preisler, associate professor of physics at La Verne, collaborated with Ron Laue, assistant dean at Washington University School of Engineering, to get the program stated.
Students can apply for either the undergraduate two-year option, or the graduate three-year option.
Under the two-year option, students finish three or four years at a liberal arts college and two years at the School of Engineering, graduating with a liberal art’s degree and an engineering undergraduate degree.
Under the three-year-option, they complete undergraduate degrees at both universities, and a graduate degree at the School of Engineering. Additionally, they get a 50 percent tuition discount the first year, 55 percent discount the second year, and 60 percent discount the third year at Washington University.
“It’s a way for students … who want the experience of a liberal arts college, and (also) want a pathway into the engineering school,” Preisler said. “For the engineering school, it just gives them a way of recruiting students.”
Washington University offers undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and systems science and engineering.
Washington also offers masters’ degrees in aerospace engineering, biomedical engineering, computer engineering, control engineering, computer science, data analytics and statistics, electrical engineering, energy, chemical, and environmental engineering, material science and engineering, mechanical engineering, robotics engineering, and systems engineering.
Students are required to complete courses in chemistry, computer programming, English composition, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and physics at their liberal arts college before applying.
Washington University has 90 partnerships with colleges across the United States, and has been running dual degree programs for 45 years; the La Verne partnership is the newest.
Laue came to ULV to present the dual degree program to students in November of 2017. He said that ULV students are well-suited to Washington University School of Engineering, which has an undergraduate body of 1,300 students.
“They’re used to smaller classes, they’re used to that individual attention, they’re used to knowing their professors, and that is one of the things that’s attractive about Washington University in St. Louis because as an engineering school,” Laue said.
Two ULV students finished their applications this February.
“Usually, when we just get the program started, it takes a few years for students to have fulfilled the requirements, but La Verne just kind of jumped right in,” Laue said.
Justine Alandy-dy, senior physics major, applied for the graduate program, and said he plans to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. While he is also looking at various Cal State institutions, he said that part of the appeal of Washington University is the kind of work produced by those who work and graduate from there. Robert Morley, associate professor at the School of Engineering, developed software for Square, a square-shaped device that, when plugged into iPads and smart phones, can process credit-card transactions.
“This opportunity just came up, with the dual degree program, and I just gave it a shot,” Alandy-dy said.
Rachel Frantz, junior math major, applied to the master’s program. While she has plans to eventually pursue a mathematics Ph.D. program, she said that if she is accepted into Washington University School of engineering, she would pursue a biomedical engineering degree.
She said she applied to the dual degree program because she wanted to keep her options open.
“I have a minor in biology,” Frantz said. “I enjoy fields that allow me to work at the intersection between mathematics and biology. The biomedical track would let me continue working in fields that I’m passionate about.”
Laue said that many skills picked up at a liberal arts institution, like collaboration and lateral thought, mesh well with the technical skills that they would learn at an engineering school.
“Some of the great breakthroughs in engineering, like Facebook or Google, it’s not just engineering skills that created those great technological breakthroughs, they are humanities and social science skills,” Laue said.
Aryn Plax can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.