Iowa State minor in engineering studies graduates first students

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University is making an impact on the future of science and technology with a new minor in engineering studies that is giving ISU students a new edge in the job market.

The first two students to earn the new minor will graduate from Iowa State this spring. Program leaders say another 60 students are actively looking into the program.

The minor is designed for students who aren't engineering majors but have an interest in technology. Students learn engineering fundamentals that add value to their careers and help them make more informed decisions about the use of technology. The program aims to improve students' technical literacy and enrich their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Students in the program are able to better appreciate the work of engineers and engineers' impact on society.

"If someone is interested in learning how engineering is done and doesn't want to be an engineer, we teach them the issues and the big picture of what defines technology and how engineering is related to science," said Mani Mina, an Iowa State senior lecturer in electrical and computer engineering and director of the program.

"This minor is a unique program," Mina said. "Most students who are pursuing this minor want to know about technology. We try to give them a great advantage and edge in the job market."

Nick Weitl, a graduating senior with a double major in supply chain management and management and logistics, chose the new minor just so he could learn more about engineering.

"This minor has given me a better understanding of how engineering students differ from business students," Weitl said. "I have had many compliments on the technical aspects of my resume during interviews and I'm sure that I will continue to see benefits in the years to come."

And that's what the minor was designed to do.

"I am very pleased with the response to the minor in engineering studies," said Mark J. Kushner, the dean of the College of Engineering. "Students understand how important being conversant with technology will be to their careers."

The minor in engineering studies is designed to work well with all majors because many electives overlap with the program's requirements, Mina said. The program's required classes have no pre-requisite courses and are not math intensive. The classes are designed to appeal to non-engineering students with different interests and schedules.

The program also fits within a national call to transform how engineering is taught and practiced. One study -- "Engineering for a Changing World" by James J. Duderstadt, president emeritus of the University of Michigan -- calls for engineering to be established as a liberal arts discipline. In today's technical world, the study says engineering courses should be part of the general education requirements of a college graduate.

"What I like best about this minor is the possibilities it brings," said Weitl. "As this minor grows, it will set ISU students apart from other graduates."