Westmont Adds Four-Year Engineering Major

By Scott Craig   |   November 29, 2018
Students will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering next fall

Westmont will offer a Bachelor of Science in engineering with a concentration in mechanical engineering beginning in fall 2019, blending a mix of courses in engineering, physics, mathematics, and chemistry and grounding the program in the college’s liberal arts tradition. The new major continues Westmont’s tradition of cultivating innovation, collaboration, problem-solving, and moral discernment in graduates.

“Through the ages, the greatest minds have possessed the unusual capacity to make connections across every discipline and in every sphere of life and thought – in the arts and sciences, in the humanities, in technology and industry, and in the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning,” says President Gayle D. Beebe. “We seek to make this remarkable capacity – the genius to find innovative solutions to enduring problems – a hallmark of our engineers.”

The launch of the new program coincides with Westmont’s capital campaign to raise $250 million for new academic programs, student scholarships and long-term financial stability through endowment growth.

 “As educators and leaders in our world consider local and global challenges, more of the solutions and strategies require insights from engineers, especially when addressing social mobility, caring for the environment, reducing poverty, and promoting human welfare,” says Provost Mark Sargent. “Blending voices from engineers in discussions with economists, theologians, ethicists, historians, sociologists, and other experts in the arts and sciences can enrich the ability of a Christian liberal arts community to cultivate justice, pursue peace, and foster human flourishing.”

Westmont responds to an invitation from the National Science Foundation challenging schools to prepare adaptive engineers committed to blending science, engineering, and the arts.

“The new engineering program offers a great opportunity to students who are technologically inclined but eager to ground their training in a rich Christian liberal arts tradition,” says Eileen McMahon McQuade, professor of biology and associate dean of faculty. “Our engineering graduates will benefit from thorough technical and scientific training as well as an interdisciplinary sensitivity and moral imagination that the Christian liberal arts can nurture.”

“If we truly want to attract and retain the best, brightest, most diverse, and most innovative students in the U.S., we (colleges and universities in the U.S.) must invest in, and actively offer, the highest-quality engineering education filled with integrative  courses in engineering technology, humanities, and the arts,” writes Domenico Grasso in “Dispelling the Myths of Holistic Engineering” for the National Society of Professional Engineers. “Technologically-based engineering training can be outsourced; engineering creativity and innovation, married to technological excellence, cannot.”

Engineering continues to be one of the most rapidly growing majors in the country, with demand in the job market for engineers soaring. With many industries employing mechanical engineers in Santa Barbara County, Westmont engineering students will find a rich source of internships during college and jobs when they graduate.

$1M Grant Helps Westmont Support Pastors

Westmont has received a $1 million grant to help establish Frontiers, offering opportunities for retreat, mentoring, intellectual and social engagement, and spiritual discernment to pastors just starting out in ministry or undergoing significant professional changes.

The grant is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry. Lilly Endowment is making nearly $70 million in grants through the Thriving in Ministry initiative.

The first dimension, New Frontiers, serves pastors during the first years of their professional lives. It seeks to widen their vision for their work and strengthen their commitment to the calling of ministry. The program will be led by Westmont’s Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts. The second, Next Frontiers, focuses on mid-career pastors who seek renewal and wisdom as they consider new possibilities for service, whether in new or current positions. This program will be guided by Westmont’s Martin Institute for Christianity and Culture. Both dimensions of Frontiers offer inspiration and resources that will sustain ministers in the long obedience of their profession. For more information, please email frontiers@westmont.edu.

“We share Lilly Endowment’s concern that, while the life of ministry is a crucial calling, pastors face a unique set of pressures as they seek meaning and balance in their professional, spiritual, and personal lives,” says Westmont President Gayle D. Beebe. “We’re grateful for the chance to join with the Endowment in the work of addressing the challenges of ministry, extending the college’s resources to provide deep relationship, intellectual enrichment, and spiritual refreshment to pastors in transition.”

Westmont is one of 78 organizations located in 29 states taking part in the initiative. The organizations reflect diverse Christian traditions: mainline and evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox. 

Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grantmaking priority at Lilly Endowment for nearly 25 years.

“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. These promising programs, including Westmont’s Frontiers, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion. The Endowment maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state, Indiana. Its grantmaking in religion focuses on supporting efforts to strengthen the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations throughout the country and to increase the public’s understanding of the role of religion in public life.


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