Two schools, two degrees

MOE SIMMONS | STAFF REPORTER

 

What if there was a program where someone could get two degrees from two different universities?

All someone has to do is attend both colleges for five years overall. Then a person could graduate and be seen as more marketable and ready for the workforce.

Seems too good to be true? Well, this actually exists here at Butler.

Butler partners with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to create an integrated curriculum for the engineering dual-degree program.  Students choose a program from the seven majors available. These majors include biology, chemistry, computer science, economics, math, physics and science, technology and society.

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Then from IUPUI, students will be able to choose one of the six engineering disciplines to pair with the majors. These disciplines are biomedical, computer, electrical, energy, mechanical and motorsports engineering.

Jessica McCormick, academic coordinator for the engineering dual-degree program, said the partnership between the two universities began in 1998. Both universities were looking for ways to increase the number and diversity of programs offered.

The EDDP is a unique program that only Butler offers. McCormick said no other college in the country has a program similar to this.

Dan Burtner, a fifth-year mechanical engineering and economics major, was originally a biology pre-med major. He decided to look for other majors and became interested in the EDDP.

“I really fell in love with engineering and the design aspect of engineering,” Burtner said. “I was already here and I decided, ‘Well, I can get my education from Butler and IUPUI with their engineering program,’ which is top notch. So I figured, best of both worlds couldn’t hurt.”

Burtner is currently taking classes at Butler and IUPUI. He said the transition to the campus was not difficult at all. The main differences are the larger size classes and fewer hands-on professors.

Greg Cerabona, junior mechanical engineering and science, technology and society major, said the courses could be heavy at times. However, Butler helps balance out the course load.

“Our advisor does a good job at helping us,” Cerabona said. “Making sure it is not too heavy of a course load geared toward one side. So just finding that balance.”

Burtner said engineering is a challenging major.

“Course load is not that bad once you break it down and plan it correctly,” he said. “But that just comes along with the program. Engineering is a tough program and you know Butler has its standards that you have to live up to.”

Shaun Mbateng is a contractor at the U.S. Department of Energy. He graduated from Butler in May 2014.

Mbateng said the program’s preparation for the workforce was an average experience that could have been better. However, he said the program made him more marketable with the two degrees.

“As an engineer, you stick out because you have a degree in another area,” he said. “It kind of makes you more useful because in the real world, they want to see how they can use you and your skills.”

Though the program is going on to its 17th year, Butler has no interest in creating its own engineering majors. McCormick said the major itself is very expensive and is already successful as it is.

“The program is so successful,” she said, “it would not make sense for Butler to do that, because it is so successful and the resources that are needed to start the program are so costly.”

Though McCormick considers the program to be successful overall, there are still some improvements that she would like to see.

“That is one of the things I would like to see get better,” she said. “The more exposure, the more people know about the program, the more opportunities we have to bring in high quality and good students into the program.”

Mbateng said he thinks the program can improve on helping struggling students.

“If you were one of the students that did not understand what was going on,” he said, “at certain times, some of those harder classes, you were kind of out of luck at some points, because you couldn’t get the help you might have wanted or wasn’t there for you.”

Burtner said he believes the commute would be easier on him if scheduling between IUPUI and Butler lined up better.

“During the week there are some classes that kind of overlap,” he said. “I have to book it from Butler, down to IUPUI, then back real quick. So it is kind of stressful sometimes, commuting back and forth.”

Overall, Burtner said he enjoys the program and what it offers to him.

“I would say it rounds me out more,” he said. “I cannot tell you how many times I turned in my resume to an employer and they say, ‘Wow! Engineering at IUPUI. Oh wow! Engineering at Butler.’”

McCormick said she feels very invested with every student she advises within the program.

“I feel like they are kind of my kids, in a way,” she said. “Like I have relationships with all of them, so their successes are like my successes. It is really exciting and I enjoy it.”

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