Lee takes steps towards dual degree in engineering

By Mitchell Capps, News Editor

Lee University's faculty voted to approve a new Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with an emphasis in pre-engineering to be available beginning in fall 2016.

Blayne Carroll, professor of mathematics, said the new major is part of a larger plan.

'This is a major that is designed as an initial step,' Carroll said. 'We're actually pursuing a dual degree engineering major with a partner institution.'

The school Lee is currently considering is Tennessee Technological University.

A pre-engineering major was preempted to provide a launching point for students interested in both Lee and an engineering degree.

'That way students can actually come and start this semester and declare this as a major and start moving towards that path of a dual degree,' Carroll said. 'Once all the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed on the agreement between Tennessee Tech and Lee they could then officially say we have a dual degree and they can transfer into that.'

Carroll hopes to have the agreement in place in time for the upcoming academic year.

The decision to option a dual degree rather than provide the means for a full major at Lee is a strategic one.

To house an engineering program is an expensive and complicated undertaking for a school Lee's size and would require new laboratories, equipment, and robotics.

Carroll explained that while he believed Lee could succeed in such an operation, he feels that it is more important to continue to do what Lee already does well.

'We prepare students to go out and get a degree in engineering,' Carroll said. 'This is going to be comparable to anything they'd get at Tennessee Tech or UTK in their first few years.'

For Carroll, the appeal for the dual degree is allowing students to take advantage of what makes a Lee education distinctive, including the global perspectives requirement and the religion core.

Professor of Chemistry John Hearn, who is participating in creating new classes for the potential major,  said the it has been frequently requested by prospective students.

'There have been several students who have inquired about an engineering program who would like a degree like what Lee gives where you get a more holistic education,' Hearn said.

With the dual degree, students could complete their general education core in three years and then move on to the partner school for another two years in their particular discipline of engineering.

Professors like Carroll and Hearn in the science and math department have proposed five new classes, which would be added to Lee's coursework by the fall or spring of 2018.

Carroll is excited to give prospective students an opportunity for both a Lee education and a top quality engineering degree.

'We were missing a significant population of people who wanted to be engineers, as well as that Lee distinctive,' Carroll said. 'Before this they had to decide and that's a decision that they shouldn't have to make. By doing this they can have the best of both worlds,' Hearn said.

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