Elizabethtown College engineering students now have the opportunity to be part of industries that directly shape society and improve lives. In addition to electrical, environmental, mechanical, and industrial and systems engineering already at Elizabethtown, the college now offers accredited engineering degrees with a choice of civil or biomedical engineering concentrations for graduation in 2022.
Civil engineering, which focuses on the design of bridges, transportation systems and buildings, develops a student’s skills in designing and analyzing safe, reliable and efficient public infrastructure. Student projects are a key focus of the degree with coursework in green architecture, structural and environmental engineering, strength of materials, civil engineering materials, and environmental site design.
After World War II, there was a huge leap forward in infrastructure, said Kurt DeGoede, professor of engineering and physics at Elizabethtown.
“Nationally and regionally, we have a present and ongoing need for engineers to design the next generation of transportation and other infrastructure systems,” DeGoede said. “Many aging networks are in need of replacement.” Because of the mid-20th century boom, he said, many systems will need to be renovated or replaced over a similarly short timeframe, creating urgency in the field.
In addition, said Brenda Read-Daily, assistant professor of engineering, many of the civil engineers hired in previous cycles of construction were Baby Boomers.
“There is a need to fill the shoes of those who are retiring,” meaning significant openings in the job market, Read-Daily said.
Courtney Warlick, a 2014 Elizabethtown engineering graduate who is a design engineer in the structures department of Wallace Montgomery and Associates, in Cockeysville, Md., helps to create plan sets to be submitted to contractors for construction.
“Currently, the company is working on a lot of “Design-Build” projects where the turnaround for concepts is quick and has the potential to change throughout construction,” she said, noting that she “absolutely” would have benefitted by the concentration while at Elizabethtown College.
“Any knowledge is good knowledge,” Warlick said. “But being able to focus on the aspects of civil engineering would have helped me understand some basic concepts when I first started at Wallace Montgomery. The civil engineering field will always be in demand. There always will be new bridges to be built and new roads to be constructed. As time goes on, there will be new and improved ways to solve the problems of today when it comes to transportation.”
Students who opt for the college’s new biomedical engineering concentration will graduate with the ability to significantly impact the lives of others through careers in prosthetics or other surgical and clinical device industries. In class, they design and test medical devices for use in surgical and clinical applications and explore balance and motor control. The biomedical curriculum includes biomechanics, biomaterials, strength of materials, fluid dynamics, control systems and biomedical device design.
The concentration, said DeGoede, embodies the College’s “Education for Service. Engineer for Society” mission.
“Many of the students interested in the biomedical concentration had a personal experience, perhaps a family member or friend with a prosthetic. That becomes a major force for their decision to pursue the concentration,” said Read-Daily.
Russell Speiden, who graduated from Elizabethtown in 2012 with a degree in engineering, works in new product design at Aroa Biosurgery, in Auckland, New Zealand, where he concentrates in implantable devices.
As medical device development is often subject to FDA regulations, Speiden said, the knowledge of technical engineering as well as regulatory requirements are crucial to successfully design, develop and launch a medical device in the United States. When he interviews new hires, he said, “recent graduates rarely have the experiences specific to the medical device industry, as (these skills) are often learned on the job … any exposure during schooling will be advantageous upon graduation.”
The college’s new programs in civil and biomedical engineering are recognized by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.