Butler’s Engineering Dual Degree Program celebrates 20th anniversary

EDDP students earn two degrees in five years: two degrees: one from IUPUI’s Purdue School of Engineering and Technology and another liberal arts degree from Butler. Courtesy of Butler’s EDDP Twitter.

CALVIN PRENKERT | STAFF REPORTER | cprenker@butler.edu

Two is always better than one.

Or at least that’s what Joseph Kirsh, director of the Engineering Dual Degree Program on Butler’s campus, has seen over his 20 years of work with the program, which started in 1999. Kirsch, who has been with the program since day one, has seen the benefit that earning two degrees can have on students.

“When we first started, we were worried that maybe it wasn’t gonna fly, but after two or three years we thought ‘okay, this is a nice little program,’” Kirsch said. “The quality of the program has increased and so have the number of students. I think when a student wants to come to a school like Butler and have access to a high quality engineering program that’s highly integrated, this is a good program.”

The EDDP operates as a five year program, allowing students to take classes on Butler and IUPUI’s campuses earning them two degrees: one from IUPUI’s Purdue School of Engineering and Technology and another liberal arts degree from Butler. Students will take classes primarily at Butler for their first three years, and then commute between Butler and IUPUI for the last two.

IUPUI’s Purdue School of Engineering, roughly 15 minutes from Butler’s campus, gives Butler students the bulk of their higher level engineering experience during their fourth and fifth years. This model is not like a traditional dual degree engineering program, Kirsch said, as the students maintain their Butler student status throughout the program’s entire five year span.

“The important thing about the program is it’s not three-two,” Kirsch said, referring to dual degree programs where students get a degree for three years and another for two years. “Our students will take nine or 10 hours of engineering their first two years, so they get a lot of engineering in. It’s not prep and then we transfer you.”

This different type of model was appealing to Ella Murphy-Kalkbrenner, a first-year economics and mechanical engineering major at Butler. She said the idea of getting the liberal arts education paired with engineering degree at a small school was ultimately what helped her choose Butler.

“Butler’s program is really cool because it is partnered with Purdue [School of Engineering] and I don’t have to go to a big school.” Murphy-Kalkbrenner said. “I can go to a smaller school and also a liberal arts school, which is what I wanted. I went to a high school that was really geared towards liberal arts and I’ve always had a really strong love for the humanities, so I guess it was just important to me to hold on to that part of my education.”

EDDP graduates benefit from both their engineering experience as well as the liberal arts degree in post-undergraduate employment.

“One of the things the graduates say to us is that my engineering was solid, because I got a Purdue degree, but my liberal arts education allowed me to communicate with other people in my workforce,” Kirsch said. “When you go to work for a company you have to do your job well, but you also have to communicate with people regularly.”

In only his second year, Isaac Wall, a mechanical engineering and economics major, is already seeing the advantage of working towards two degrees in the EDDP when interviewing for potential job and internship opportunities.

“I have been asked so many times why I chose my two majors and every employer has definitely showed interest in me earning two degrees from two great schools and loved having someone with a business and engineering background,” Wall said.

Kirsch has also seen firsthand the way the program has changed and developed over its lifespan, specifically in the way of expansion and versatility with options for majors on both campuses.

“We’ve added motorsports engineering, we’ve added biomedical, so different areas of engineering have been added — music has even been added,” Kirsch said.

After 20 years, Kirsch still sees improvements being made. Specifically, the Butler engineering department and lab will move from Jordan Hall to the new sciences complex when it finishes completion in two years.

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