Yes, Benedictine University, the little liberal arts college in Lisle, IL has an engineering program. This came as a surprise to me during my first visit, but it was ultimately the deciding factor in choosing to enroll at this school. I liked the campus and culture at Benedictine, but having my intended major was essential.
The way the program works is very unique. By enrolling, you are entering a five year dual program with Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). So why the extra work of one year to get a degree that could be done in four years at other universities? Simple. By completing the dual program, you receive two diplomas – a Bachelor’s in Engineering Science from Benedictine and a Bachelor’s in an Engineering Field (Aerospace, Biomedical, Civil, etc. or in my case Mechanical) from IIT.
Before I explain how the program works specifically, I think it is important to elaborate on what each degree is. The Bachelor’s in Engineering degree is a typical engineering degree. It features classes focusing on math, science and field specific classes (such as mechanical design, projects and reports for my major). Engineering Science is a liberal engineering education. What this means is that while the main focus is on science and math classes (such as Calculus, University Physics, Computer Science, etc.), liberal arts classes (Humanities, Philosophy, Theology, etc.) must be taken.
Most people who are set on becoming engineers seem to cringe at the notion of having to take these classes because they are used to working solo with minimal interactions with others. Even though these individuals might be able to get engineering degrees in this manner through most universities, they will not get very far working as an engineers. Despite the general notion that engineers sit in an office or cubicle, this is not true. It is practically a myth. Engineering requires communication with others, as well as on the sight work. Furthermore, getting a job in the first place and moving up requires engineers not only to be human calculators but also sociable. You need to meet people and know how to present yourself. Attaining this degree not only gives you an advantage on paper but also helps you become a well-rounded individual so that you are not one-dimensional.
The way the program is described is as a three-two program. This implies that you spend three years at Benedictine and two years at IIT. This is not always the case. Generally, students start taking classes at both schools during their junior year (however this depends on the field of engineering they wish to pursue). The reason for this being the fact that certain classes at IIT are only available during certain semesters, and some of these classes are prerequisites for a three class sequence. Therefore, if the first class is taken during senior year, the student would have to go an additional semester after the five years.
During the first (let’s say three) years at Benedictine, students take their general math and science and liberal arts classes. These not only fulfill the requirements for graduation but also act as prerequisites for certain IIT classes. By doing this, students enter IIT only having to take field specific courses.
Students who enroll in this program are required to pay only Benedictine’s tuition throughout the duration of the program. Moreover, all scholarships received are good for the five years. Commuting to IIT varies. Some students live in Benedictine and take the train downtown. Others, find a buddy and carpool. Some even choose to live in downtown. When one starts classes at IIT, they are given the newest version of the iPad out at the time as well as an unlimited Ventra pass card for CTA.
Variations in the Program:
Getting a degree in Engineering Science from Benedictine is not mandatory. The reason the program is always listed so is because this is the general path taken. Some students choose to do a major in math, chemistry, physics or computer science, which are all great fields. Nevertheless, these are still liberal education degrees. The majority of these classes will be that of the specified major, but students are still required to take the liberal arts classes.
I have tried to cover as much about the program as possible. I hope that this summary provides a general idea of what the program is and how it functions.