GVSU approves major change for engineering students

John C. Kennedy Hall of Engineering
John C. Kennedy Hall of Engineering
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The School of Engineering at Grand Valley will now offer five different engineering majors. The proposal was presented to the university’s Board of Trustees at its February 11 meeting and was approved.

Beginning fall 2011, Grand Valley students, either freshman standing or current students enrolled in the engineering program, can choose majors in computer, electrical, interdisciplinary, mechanical or product design and manufacturing engineering.

Paul Plotkowski, dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, said the current engineering programs have matured to the extent that each is appropriate for designation as a separate major. “Growth in enrollment, university and public support, and nationally recognized faculty and facilities are some of the reasons we need to expand the program.”

Charlie Standridge, assistant dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing and director of the School of Engineering, said new courses in renewable and sustainable energy, biomedical engineering, fiber optics and nanotechnology have recently been created to keep up with developing industries, and a biomedical engineering minor as been added to the program as well. Standridge also said there will be no additional costs associated with the change, but that the increased visibility of the separate majors will likely attract more students.

The engineering program was established in the mid-1980s with 135 students. Driven by student interest and employer demand, the program grew to more than 600 students in 2009 and continues to grow. About 96 percent of engineering graduates are employed or pursuing graduate studies. The quality of engineering programs in the U.S. is assessed nationally by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and each of the five engineering programs at Grand Valley has accreditation.