Cassandra Stec ’23 is a Butler student with a dual major in Mechanical Engineering and English with a specialty in Professional Writing
Back in high school when I was talking with my college counselor about all the different universities that offer engineering programs in the United States, I expected to attend a big state school that was known for engineering. Instead, my counselor encouraged me to look at Butler University and the Engineering Dual Degree Program (EDDP).
I thought the suggestion was odd. As a small, private, liberal arts school with no engineering classes, Butler seemed to be the opposite of what I wanted. Still, I decided to give the EDDP a look.
Then, I saw it: a golden opportunity. I could earn an engineering degree from Purdue University, a highly ranked school for engineering, and a liberal arts degree from Butler—all within the span of five years. I could have the best of both worlds when it came to college: go to a small, private school as well as a large, public school and get two degrees along the way.
The Engineering Dual Degree Program was created in 1999 as a collaboration between Butler University and IUPUI’s Purdue School of Engineering and Technology. The program is accredited by the ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), and it allows students to receive a liberal arts degree from Butler and an engineering degree from IUPUI in five years. For the first two or three years, depending on the number of credits a student has upon entering college, EDDP students take classes on Butler’s campus. For the last two or three years of their program, students commute between Butler and IUPUI. From the start, students are simultaneously working toward both their engineering degree and their liberal arts degree.
My first two years in the program, I took twelve credit hours per semester. To start my engineering education, I took Elementary Engineering Design (DD 190), Introduction to Computer Science and Programming (CS 142), Engineering Topics: MATLAB (DD 297), and Introduction to Analytical Physics (PH 201). The other courses I took during that time were broken up into core requirements and classes for my Butler major. All of these classes were held on Butler’s campus and featured topics that would be foundational to my future higher-level engineering courses, as well as fun projects. In my DD 190 course, we learned about circuits and 3D printing. We put both of those skills to use when it came to the final project of the semester: designing via PT Creo, 3D printing, soldering, and wiring a drone. The class ended with all of us gathering in the Efroymson Family Gym to fly our drones.
On the liberal arts side, students can choose from a wide variety of Butler majors: Astronomy & Astrophysics, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Environmental Studies, Mathematics, Physics, or Science, Technology, & Society. The EDDP also recently added Art + Design and Music as approved majors.
I am currently majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and I recently switched my second major from Computer Science to an English independent study centering on Professional Writing. Given the stereotype that engineers can be poor communicators, I think the experience of combining these two studies is not only extremely unique, but also vital in preparing me to be a well-rounded professional.
The engineering majors offered through IUPUI include Biomedical, Computer, Electrical, Energy, Mechanical, and (recently added) Motorsports. All major pathways can be found laid out on the EDDP website, with lists of Butler, IUPUI, and core courses that need to be taken before a student can graduate. Some course pathways, such as Art + Design and Music, can be found on their respective webpages. Students will need to dual-enroll in both Butler and IUPUI each semester, registering for courses at each university.
I found this process a bit confusing at first, but I quickly got the hang of it thanks to assistance from the faculty and staff in charge of the program. While class registration and scheduling for EDDP is a bit more complicated than it is for other majors at Butler, the perks of the program more than make up for this challenge. After all, the program combines the communication and interpersonal skills involved in liberal arts with the technical and engineering skills needed to do a specialized job. An EDDP degree is not only a great talking point during job interviews, but also something that employers have valued when it comes to internships and opportunities for current students.
In addition to the benefits regarding career prospects, EDDP students have access to the combined resources of three universities. While Butler is considered to be the main campus students live and learn on, EDDP students can also participate in clubs and activities at IUPUI, such as the Society of Women Engineers or the engineering fraternity, Theta Tau. Students are also able to access and utilize a variety of resources, such as career services through Butler University, IUPUI’s Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, and the Purdue University West Lafayette campus. This is especially helpful when it’s time to find an internship, which is required to complete the program.
I have been involved with engineering clubs and other groups at both Butler and IUPUI. Some of my favorite IUPUI organizations are the Society of Women Engineers and the Themed Entertainment, Engineering, and Design Club. The engineering fraternity I mentioned above operates at both IUPUI and Butler. Butler also has an engineering club just for EDDP students that gathers throughout the year to lead community-building events, host alumni, and help with scheduling courses. Peer mentorships for female students are also offered through the Women’s Engineering Network.
At Butler, the EDDP has been featured as a cornerstone of the new Sciences Complex. Located on the third floor, the program now has a large, dedicated student lounge that is open 24/7, as well as nearby office space for easy access to faculty and staff. The space also offers useful technology, like the program’s 3D printer.
I was able to stop by the Sciences Complex on the last day of my spring semester finals, when the building was given a soft opening and the final details were being put into place. While all the building’s lounges and the new, modern Science Library were gorgeous, I also wanted to see the space I knew I would be spending a lot of time in. When I ran into the EDDP faculty and staff setting up their offices, they gave me a grand tour. The student lounge alone takes up almost three times the space of the program’s old home in Jordan Hall. I am beyond excited to now be back on campus, utilizing these new spaces for studying, hanging out with my friends, and meeting with other engineering students.