By Maggie Buterbaugh
Elm Staff Writer
Washington College has signed an agreement with the undergraduate engineering program at Columbia University, which is sure to only strengthen WC’s curriculum. WC students majoring in math, physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science, or computer science are qualified for this program.
“WC’s partnership with the University of Maryland ended about two years ago when UMD revised their curriculum, and it became more difficult for our students to take all the courses they needed before they would go to UMD,” said Dr. Austin Lobo, professor of computer science and chair of the department of mathematics and computer science, who helped put the partnership together.
The science departments worked hard to ensure the program’s existence and value. Associate Provost for Academic Services Dr. Patrice DiQuinzio did the research to identify Columbia as a potential partner and organized the process of putting it all together.
She said, “We chose Columbia not just for their highly rated engineering program, but also because they do an excellent job maintaining a good connection with their affiliate institutions. We also had to submit a course matrix, showing which WC courses are the equivalent of the courses Columbia requires its engineering students to take before their third year.”
Dr. DiQuinzio, Dr. Juan Lin, professor and chair of the department of physics, and Dr. Lobo made the cross-reference chart and courses sequences that make it possible for WC students to successfully join Columbia’s demanding program.
To be accepted into the engineering program, WC students must complete the entire calculus sequence, several courses in physics and biology, and a few economics and English courses. All applicants must be full time students for at least two years, have a 3.30 GPA or higher, and have three letters of recommendation. Dr. DiQuinzio said, “One of the best things about this program from the student perspective is that if you meet all the requirements, you are guaranteed admission to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia.”
Through the program, students will earn a Bachelor of Science from WC and a Bachelor of Science from Columbia University’s engineering program. Engineering is a complex study that requires a vigorous education. “The common language of engineering and, in fact all science, is math,” said Dr. Lobo. He is also passionate about engineering being just as connected to the liberal arts as English or writing. “One of the things that gets neglected is the ability to communicate and see aesthetic patterns,” he said. Dr. DiQuinzio said, “[The partnership] allows WC students to experience the small, residential college experience at WC before enrolling at Columbia which is a very large university.”
This new program is an opportunity for students who wish to become involved in the sciences. There are opportunities to thrive in a challenging environment. Professor DiQuinzio said, “Our acceptance as a Columbia affiliate is a recognition on their part of the quality not just of our programs in natural sciences but also of our liberal arts education, since Columbia is specifically looking for engineering students with a strong foundation in the liberal arts.” WC’s affiliation with Columbia University proves the worth of a small liberal arts education, while giving engineering students the chance to broaden their education and experiences.