Features Spring 2023

The Gears are in Motion

OBU to Launch New Engineering Program, Fall 2023

Rigorous academics in math and science. Students seeking engineering programs. World-class OBU faculty. Workforce in need of engineers. Collaboration and partnerships in place.

These variables create the precise formula for the success of OBU’s new engineering program. And the time to launch is now. After years of research, envisioning and planning, OBU is unveiling this much-awaited program.

The multi-faceted engineering program offers three bachelor’s degree options: mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and systems engineering. For years, prospective students have inquired about OBU offering an engineering program. The foundation is now in place to meet that request.

The curricula for these three 126-hour engineering degrees are comprised of courses that OBU is more than prepared to tackle. With the exceptional academic rigor offered through Hurley School of Science and Mathematics, and the added elements of liberal arts and engineering curricula, students will gain a solid basis of knowledge and theory to succeed in this respected field.

Each of the degree programs will be taught in a context that relates to the aerospace industry yet equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter any industry requiring these engineering degrees.

Dr. Charles E. Baukal Jr., was named OBU’s founding director of the engineering program last November. He provides the program extensive leadership and expertise with more than 40 years of industrial work experience.

“He brings a wealth of knowledge from industry, experience in the classroom, and understanding of the ABET [Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology] accreditation process to this program,” said Dr. Larinee Dennis, OBU dean of business, health science and education. “We are thrilled to have him at OBU.”

Baukal said that one of his main objectives for the program is to generate a strong emphasis on application of the specific theory taught. He stresses the importance of students not only being well-grounded in theory, but that they be able to successfully apply what they are learning into situations in the field.

“In particular, I want students to confidently implement the principles of theory through practice and application. They must be able to use the appropriate equations and critically assess the results,” he said.

In that same light, Baukal is creating a team of partnerships, faculty and advisors that currently are, or have been, working professionals in the field. This assures that students are educated on the actual operations of the engineering industry.

“The reaction of employers has been fantastic,” he said. “Many have offered to help in any way that they can.”

Baukal notes several distinctives that make the OBU engineering particularly attractive. The first key distinctive is smaller class sizes taught only by professors, not by teaching assistants, which offers students individual attention, personalized instruction and mentorship. The University’s student success center also offers flexible tutoring and support as individuals progress in their curriculum.

Another major advantage is OBU’s storied academic success in regard to science and math programs. STEM curricula are already in place and are taught by experienced faculty who are producing successful outcomes. One such faculty member is Dr. Chris Jones, director of STEM innovation at OBU, who has devoted a great amount of time in recent years towards the establishment of the engineering program.

“The implementation of this program builds on our well-established and innovative STEM degrees in fields that equip our graduates to impact the region, state and world in positive ways,” Jones said. “OBU will now help fill the high demand for more engineers with graduates trained with academic excellence and integrity grounded in the Christian faith.”

In regard to meeting the demands of the Oklahoma workforce, Dennis said,

“We are privileged to serve our state by entering an area that has a significant lack in the aerospace workforce. We are thankful for our collaboration and pipeline with industry partners. Our goal is to provide capstone and internships opportunities for our students, and ultimately offer these industries well-equipped graduates to carry out their missions. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

Those Oklahoma industry leaders include Tinker Air Force Base, Boeing, Kratos and United Dynamics with other partnerships still being developed. Baukal is formulating a strong advisory board to insure extensive collaboration and innovative advancements. Professional associates from Oklahoma CareerTech have been a valuable resource for Baukal as developments continue in the program.

As the fall semester approaches, the new engineering program is taking its rightful place on campus. Currently, many offices throughout the campus have been relocated with the ultimate plan to dedicate all three floors of Thurmond Hall to the engineering program. The building will house state-of-the art lab spaces, wood and metal shops, classrooms, faculty offices, and diverse and flexible learning environments.

Reflecting on the journey ahead, Baukal said, “I am certain God has prepared me over the course of my career to be the founding director of this program and I couldn’t be more pleased. For students interested in a robust, progressive engineering degree, our program will offer all of that and more. OBU offers a world-class education taught with a distinctively Christian worldview.”