Engineering program embraces new opportunities for growth

Dr.+Dan+Jensen+works+with+engineering+students.

Courtesy of Dr. Jensen

Dr. Dan Jensen works with engineering students.

Chloe White, Staff Writer

Though Westmont’s engineering program only began in 2018, its leaders display tenacity and excitement as they seek to propel the program towards success. Crucial advancements like a new engineering building and critical faculty hires could make 2021 “the year of the engineer” at Westmont. 

Dr. Dan Jensen, who has guided the program since its infancy, accepted a position as director of the engineering program and will join the Westmont community next fall as a full-time faculty member. His vision for the program extends past technological innovation; he anticipates “wisely [integrating] the Christian liberal arts focus throughout the whole program … to create something new and beneficial for the students and for the kingdom of God in general.”

Other faculty highlights include the hiring of Dr. Adam Goodworth, a kinesiology professor who specializes in biomechanics. He offers a unique interdisciplinary perspective to the engineering program, maneuvering the worlds of mechanical engineering, human biology and rehabilitation.

When asked what excites him most about the future of the engineering program, Dr. Goodworth’s answer was tripartite: new students, new faculty and a new space. The last element will come in the form of a new engineering building.

He described their goal for the building to be “a hub for the engineering students so that they can do their design innovations with rapid prototyping and 3D printers, and then check and refine their designs to move into manufacturing processes.”

Dr. Adam Goodworth specializes in biomechanics. (Courtesy of Brad Elliott)

This new building will include a collaboration and design lab as well as a machine shop located by the tennis courts, according to Dr. Eileen McQuade, who, as a biology professor and member of the provost’s office, has overseen the engineering program’s development. She anticipates the building will be completed this upcoming winter.”

One of the most important elements of this “maker space” is its ability to accommodate the design innovation emphasis of the program. Dr. Jensen specializes in this area and hopes his experience with consulting will help students to be “innovative in the design of products and processes and services.” He expressed desire that “weaving [design innovation] into the engineering curriculum at Westmont … will give the students a distinctiveness that we hope and believe will be beneficial for them.” 

Both professors Goodworth and Jensen expressed enthusiasm for the liberal arts basis of the program. Dr. Goodworth has been teaching the Engineering and the Liberal Arts class for the last two years, where students learn about how “engineering can overlap with faith and responsibility and ethics,” which, to him, is a key part of the unique, full education Westmont engineering students receive. For Dr. Jensen, the Christian liberal arts component will be evident in the intentional other-centeredness of the program. “As engineers, when we design things, we are creating them to help people, and when you get the chance to do that, you feel like you’re doing part of what God made you to do.”

These new faculty members understand the importance of pursuing a world-class engineering program with cutting-edge technology, but still want their students to be grounded in the Christian residential community so crucial to Westmont’s ethos.

Part of the development process includes receiving ABET accreditation for the engineering program, which the college is applying for now that its first round of engineering students are about to graduate. According to Dr. McQuade, “ABET is very important because it is an external accreditation agency that will look at programs and give their stamp of approval, so that people can have confidence that those programs live up to the quality and expectations of the engineering workforce.”

Further plans include hiring new faculty members to cover the specialized areas of fluid dynamics and control centers, Dr. McQuade explained.

As this program continues to develop, many uncertainties remain, but there is a lot of potential for the program to thrive. As such, Dr. Jensen asks the community to pray with him that God would guide the program, and that it would be a blessing to the college and community in producing technical leaders who can advance the gospel.

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