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JCP: Milligan College will soon have an engineering program

Johnson City Press, Elizabethton Bureau Chief

ELIZABETHTON — Some people were surprised when Milligan College announced it will soon have a 4-year engineering program. After all, Milligan has always been known as a Christian, liberal arts college.

“Engineering is a very good fit with Milligan’s liberal arts focus, our strong science and technology programs, an our Christian mission,” Milligan President Bill Greer said recently.

Greer said there are students who want to be engineers, but who also have a desire for Christian service. He said there is also a demand in the business world for engineers with strong Christian values.

Greer said there is also an opportunity for Christian missionaries to serve, designing needed infrastructures, such as water purification facilities.
At first glance, Milligan’s decision to create an engineering department might appear to be solely influenced by the nation’s emphasis on graduating more STEM students — students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math.

But Greer points to a Feb. 18 Washington Post article, “We don’t need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training,” written by Loretta Jackson-Hayes, an associate professor of chemistry at Rhodes College in Memphis.

She concludes the article by writing: “By all means, let’s grow our STEM graduates as aggressively as possible. But let’s make sure they also have that all-important grounding in the liberal arts. We can have both.”

Greer said three local companies have shown a desire to recruit Milligan’s engineers with a grounding in Christian liberal arts.
Eastman Chemical, Nuclear Fuels Specialty and BAE Systems had representatives at Milligan’s first Engineering Buff Day on March 20. The representatives discussed careers in engineering with the prospective students.

To ensure the students receive both a quality education in STEM and Christian liberal arts, Associate Dean Carolyn Carter said a great deal of thought, time and effort went into developing the curriculum. Students can choose either electrical engineering or mechanical engineering majors.

Carter is the associate dean of the William B. Green Jr. School of Business and Technology. The engineering programs will be under that school. Carter prepared the engineering curriculum with Richard Lura, professor of chemistry at Milligan.

Both majors will require 132 credits for graduation. Sixty of those credits will be in engineering . There are 18 math credits, eight physics credits and four credits in chemistry. The remaining 42 credits are in general education. Some of these include a freshman course called “Engineering from a Christian Worldview” and several courses in humanities, including ancient cultures, 18th- and 19th-century cultures and 20th- and 21st-century cultures.

Greer said the program was developed in close cooperation with Greg Harrell, who served as the lead technical advisor. Harrell is an engineering professor at Virginia Tech and has worked in engineering on six continents, in addition to work for the U.S. Department of Energy and the United Nations.

Greer said the program cannot be accredited until someone graduates. He said the program was designed to meet the standards of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The accreditation process will follow the first students in the program as they reach the appropriate milestones.

The program is designed to be completed by students in four years, but many students will probably choose to take a co-op program in which qualified students will be placed in cooperating engineering and technology firms throughout the world. Students in the co-op program will require five years to graduate.

The creation of an engineering program may seem bold and ambitious, but Greer said it could not have been achieved without the decision of its neighboring academic institution of Emmanuel Christian Seminary to seek a union with Milligan.

That merger is still ongoing, but when it is completed, it will not only greatly strengthen Milligan’s newly organized School of Bible and Ministry, but Emmanuel’s additional buildings will provide the space for the engineering labs, including the TPI Electrical Engineering Lab. Greer said the program might have taken years to develop if funds would have had to be raised for an engineering building.


MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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