- General program objectives
In harmony with and guided by The Educational Task of Dordt College, The Educational Framework of Dordt College, and the department's mission statement, the graduate of the Dordt College engineering program should exhibit the following skills, abilities and characteristics related to the four coordinates; religious orientation, creational structure, creational development, and contemporary response*:
- Religious orientation
The program should be rooted in the Word of God and infused with a Reformational worldview to reflect the fact that all of creation is related to God as its Creator, Redeemer, and Lord. The Dordt College engineering program seeks to guide students as they develop a Christian worldview, so that a graduate of the engineering program will internalize the conviction that their occupation is an important element of their religion; i.e., their calling to serve the Creator, fellow humans, and the entire creation, empowered by the Spirit of Christ.
- Creational structure
The program and curriculum should be organized into a balanced cohesive whole of complementary courses and activities that faithfully reflect the diversity and coherence of reality. The curriculum should include the study of general areas of common concern to all people, and it should contain in-depth study of selected fields of specialization. The engineering program will seek to provide its graduates with the following:
- A general, broad, and holistic engineering education that actively thwarts the traditional technical-humanities dichotomy, meaningfully unifies all aspects of the curriculum, and starts the student on a path of life-long, self-initiated learning, whether in engineering design, the humanities, the natural sciences, or the social sciences.
- A capacity for technological problem-solving and design so that the student, upon graduation, may immediately begin work as an engineer, either in a large industrial enterprise where specialized on-the-job training is provided for new employees; or in the smallest of companies, where responsibility for design decisions is immediately given.
- A general engineering education with sufficient technical (mathematics, natural science, engineering design) understanding so that the student may continue his or her education at the graduate level.
- Enthusiasm and intellectual excitement when contemplating the diversity and coherence of the creation structure, the prospect of new technological discoveries, and the opportunities for meaningful design, in other words, a passion for serving as an engineer.
- Creational development
The program and curriculum should reflect and promote knowledge of the dynamic unfolding of creation, and it should highlight the various aspects of human responsibility and involvement in this process. Graduates from the Dordt College engineering program will acquire the following:
- A recognition of our God-given responsibility to unfold the potential of creation through science and technology in stewardly ways, exhibiting care for and proper use of the things they employ, and showing concern for those creatures that suffer from the misery caused by human sin and error.
- An understanding of the historical and philosophical roots and problems associated with Western science and technology, and the ability to critically assess how the spirits of the age impact technological direction.
- Contemporary response
The program should help students convert their insights and competencies into committed action. It should enable them to translate the results of theoretical investigation into faithful response to God and practical Christian service to their neighbor. The curriculum should be broad enough to address the pressing concerns of today's world, but narrow enough to be able to treat these issues with the sustained thoroughness required to develop genuinely serviceable insight on them from a Christian perspective. As a graduate of the Dordt engineering program a person will acquire:
- The tenacity and perseverance required to complete a bachelor's degree in engineering, in the face of weak high school preparation and/or cultural forces that tend to cause typical freshman engineering students to quit engineering.
- A sensitivity to the need for redeeming technology, i.e., bringing the redemptive healing and direction of the Gospel to this increasingly important area of modern life.
- A sensitivity to current problems associated with technology such as the already mentioned technical-humanities dichotomy, the enslavement of technology to economics, the dehumanization of many work environments by inappropriate technology, technophilia: the faith that technological development is always good and will solve humanity's problems, and technophobia: the fear that technology is an autonomous and evil force that will destroy humanity.
- A dedication to the concept of "appropriate" or "responsible" technology supported by an awareness of current environmental/ecological problems and founded on the biblical principles of Christian stewardship.
- An awareness of the need and possibilities for using appropriate technology to "act justly and love mercy" by helping to solve the problems of developing nations and the poor in all parts of the world.
- A vision for a community of Kingdom-committed engineers, scientists, industrialists, etc., who become a light in the world by developing normative technological models and living normative lives.
* The numbering of the objectives is derived from The Educational Framework of Dordt College, the section on Curricular Goals and Student Outcomes.
- Religious orientation
- Specific curricular outcomes
The 10 specific curricular outcomes enumerated below serve to facilitate the achievement of the general objectives described above.
- Educational breadth and worldview development: The students will receive a broad-based education that educates the whole person for life-long learning and service. The curriculum will enable students to overview their academic experience, understand the relationship of its parts to the whole, and its relationship to their life as a whole. To this end, experiences that provide thorough grounding in neo-Calvinist philosophy as well as critical understanding of modern philosophical trends ought to be woven throughout the curriculum. All curricular experiences will, to at least some extent, enable the engineering student to develop his or her Christian worldview. Some specific courses will allow students to focus on worldview, particularly because of the ubiquitous belief, even among Christians, that one's religion has little to do with one's technical vocation or with technology in general.
- Obedience and responsibility: The students will understand that they are called to a life of obedience, which includes and extends beyond professional and ethical responsibility. Christian engineers will desire to understand and obey God's norms for all human activity (including the activity of engineering) in the fiduciary, ethical, juridic, economic, social, lingual, aesthetic, cultural, and analytical aspects of creation. The curriculum will enable students to develop understanding of these aspects of the creation, in abstraction, in general, and with reference to these aspects of engineering design. In addition, students will develop a commitment to the communal task of building models of normative technology with respect to these aspects of the creation. Students will have the opportunity to study many of these aspects in dedicated courses.
- Fiduciary–Students will recognize that all theories and designs are shaped from the ultimate belief system of the scientist and engineer. Students will be able to articulate how the theories and designs of a Christian engineer are guided by God's word. Each student will also recognize that society, colleagues, and clients, all place trust in them to professionally and responsibly complete their engineering tasks. As a faithful servant, an engineer will work to insure that this relationship of trust is not eroded or compromised.
- Ethical–Christians are called to "love your neighbor." Students will recognize that their task of engineering is motivated by a call to love not only their fellow human beings but also the rest of the creation.
- Juridic–Students will recognize that their work as engineers must seek to promote justice in society.
- Economic–Students will learn to appreciate the broad, stewardship meaning of economics. Stewardship is more than just monetary stewardship; it includes stewardship of environmental resources, time, etc. As mentioned above in A4c, students will become sensitive to the distortions of economism (i.e. the enslavement of technology to economics).
- Social–The social and economic dimensions of engineering design will be stressed in appropriate engineering courses. In addition, the social dimension of the engineering profession ought to be experienced by the students. This requires that students have opportunities to be active in professional societies and to engage in departmental and college-wide social activities.
- Lingual–Students must learn how to communicate with clarity, honesty, and openness.
- Aesthetic–Students must recognize that cultivating an appreciation of the aesthetic dimension of our humanity is essential for imaginative, allusive, creative, and obedient engineering.
- Formative–Students must recognize that their engineering is part of the cultural mandate; the God-ordained human task of giving shape and form to the creation.
- Analytical–Students will understand the potentiality and limitations that accompany their ability to reason and theorize. Developing these gifts is essential for their engineering practice.
- Teamwork: Students will recognize that engineering decisions have social consequences and such decisions are socially conditioned. Students will understand that engineering is a communal activity. It is never an individual pursuit. Students will experience this by engaging in problem solving teams, design teams, and experimentation teams. Opportunities for group work outside of the engineering discipline will also be available and encouraged.
- Problem solving and critical thinking: The capacity for critical thinking will be strengthened by all the elements of the curriculum. Although logical analysis is foundational to courses in mathematics, natural and engineering science, and engineering design, the students will be provided with the opportunity to study logic in a formal sense as well. Beyond the refinement of critical thinking skills, the student should demonstrate an ability to identify, formulate, and solve problems.
- Communication: Students will possess the ability to communicate effectively. Refining the communication abilities of the students will be a significant part of all curricular experience. Students will be able to effectively express ideas and information through public speaking, listening, reading, writing, and graphical forms of communication.
- Societal and historical context: Students will have an understanding of contemporary issues within the broader context of historical, cultural, and societal development. The curriculum will enable students to understand the history of Western thought, and in particular, the history of science and technology. That knowledge will help students to know their place and task in the dynamic unfolding of creation in time, what has been called the cultural mandate.
- Engineering design: Students will develop the ability to holistically design systems, components, or processes. This requires that students recognize the importance of the design norms relating to the fiduciary, ethical, juridic, economic, social, lingual, aesthetic, formative, and analytical aspects of creation (as described above). For example, the curriculum will enable students to develop an appreciation for the aesthetic dimension of creation. Aesthetics will be understood as integral to the engineering design process, the students will develop the ability to appreciate aesthetically qualified cultural artifacts, and the student will have opportunity to exercise and exhibit aesthetic creativity in their design. All students will demonstrate an ability to complete an engineering design. This will be demonstrated in both classroom work and a senior design project experience. The classroom work will cover general engineering design principles as well as design in at least one specialized area.
- Engineering, math, and science fundamentals: Students will demonstrate an ability to apply foundational knowledge in mathematics, science, and engineering. The curriculum will have a strong, foundational component that enables students to appreciate the numerical and spatial aspects of the creation and to develop the mathematical abilities needed for modern engineering design.
- Students will demonstrate a thorough facility with algebraic, geometric, and trigonometric manipulation, an understanding and competence in differential and integral calculus, the ability to solve differential equations, and a competence in basic statistics and linear algebra. Students will also understand the elements of advanced calculus (e.g. Laplace transforms, complex variables) necessary for specific engineering design applications (e.g., control systems, mechanism analysis).
- The curriculum will enable the student to appreciate the physical (energetic and kinematic) aspect of the creation and to develop the natural scientific insights needed for modern engineering design. This will include a thorough, calculus based grounding in elementary physics and chemistry that includes both theoretical (classroom) and empirical (laboratory) components.
- The curriculum will provide the student with the opportunity to learn about the biotic and sensitive aspects of the creation and must enable the students to appreciate the interwovenness of those aspects with others in the context of engineering design.
- All engineering students will gain a basic understanding of engineering science. Engineering science includes the foundations of such topics as mechanics, analog and digital electronics, thermodynamics, materials engineering, linear systems, and automatic controls.
- Students selecting a particular emphasis (mechanical, electrical, civil-environmental, computer, or bioengineering) will have the necessary disciplinary coursework to pursue graduate work or serve in industry in the engineering discipline most closely aligned with the emphasis completed.
- Engineering skills and tools: Students will have the ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for professional engineering practice. Students will have the ability to use the computer as a tool for analysis, communication, and design. All students will have the opportunity to experience the industrial workplace firsthand during their undergraduate years. Thus an internship option will be part of the curriculum and summer internships will be encouraged.
- Experimental design and analysis: Students will have the ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.