Mississippi College

MC Launches Engineering Program on Clinton Campus

March 3, 2008

Mississippi College leaders will soon recruit students for a new program combining engineering, chemistry, mathematics and physics.

MC's School of Science & Mathematics is overseeing the new Engineering Physics Program that will enroll its first students in August 2008. The program is designed to prepare MC undergraduates for careers in industry or graduate studies in engineering and physics.

By Fall 2009, the goal is to attract at least 30 students annually, said Dr. Stan Baldwin, dean of the School of Science and Mathematics. The school on the Clinton campus presently enrolls 500 undergraduates and 130 graduate students.

Baldwin predicts graduates of the program won't have a problem finding employment, and the latest job forecasts back him up. MC is launching its new venture when the U.S. Department of Labor reports job opportunities in engineering the next few years are expected to be good, but vary by specialty. Overall engineering employment is likely to grow 11 percent from 2006 through 2016, the Labor Department says.

Starting salaries for engineers are among the highest of all college graduates. National median salaries were $87,610 for aerospace engineers, $78,860 for chemical engineers and $68,600 for civil engineers as of May 2006, federal agency said. Continuing education is a must for engineers as technology advances, reports say. Their work can range from developing industrial robots to estimating the time and cost to complete projects to supervising production in factories.

A bachelor's degree from MC in the engineering physics program will enable students to pursue a masters in electrical or mechanical engineering, Baldwin said. The MC program will interweave the fundamentals of classical physics, chemistry and mathematics with engineering applications. The MC program requires students to be well grounded in traditional physics topics such as quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, electromagnetism, statistical thermodynamics and mathematical methods for physicists, he said.

Also, the program will give MC students the opportunity to study engineering applications such as electrical circuit design, electronics, and a senior project that emphasizes independent study.

While MC's engineering physics program is just getting launched, Mississippi already operates three engineering schools: at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi State University at Starkville and the newest, Jackson State University, in the capital city. Mississippi is the home of a 5,000-employee Nissan plant near Canton, and a Toyota plant under construction near Tupelo. Both auto giants are hiring engineers from Mississippi and around the globe.

MC physics professors, who will among those teaching the classes, are enthused about the new program and anticipate it will be popular with students.

"We imagine it being a pretty good draw for us," said MC physics professor Chris Maggio, who received a doctorate in physics at the University of Mississippi. "It makes students very attractive for employers." With their bachelor of science degree, "it will open up three doors," for students in electrical and mechanical engineering and physics, he said.

Getting the word out falls on the shoulders of Baldwin, physics professors Maggio, John Curtis, admissions recruiters and others. "We will hit the recruiting trail pretty hard," Maggio said. If students want to go to work or go to graduate school, he said, "they will be in good shape."

Leaders at 4,600-student MC say there's room for the Baptist-affiliated institution to get engineering on its radar screen.

"There are students who need a degree in engineering physics and our program will make it possible for them to get the credentials in a unique environment," said Jim Turcotte, MC vice president for enrollment management and student affairs. "We can offer the quality academic program with personal attention that is so important to most students today."

For more information on the new program, contact Dr. Stan Baldwin, dean of the School of Science and Mathematics, at 601-925-3321 or sbaldwin@mc.edu

PHOTO (left-right): MC physics professors, Drs. John Curtis and Chris Maggio

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