The first graduating class of the program – a total of 15 students – walked the stage this past spring commencement.
Laying the foundation
Starting an entire program requires a lot of hands on deck.
Dr. Douglas Carroll, professor and program director, was one of the people that made it possible.
“We had our first graduates of our civil and electrical engineering programs in 2012,” he recalled. “Those programs were very successful. We’ve made companies here in Springfield very happy with the students they have hired out of those programs, and we got a lot of positive feedback overall.”
Dr. Tamera Jahnke, dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences (CNAS), says the civil and electrical engineering programs started with both the support and demand of local engineering companies.
Her contributions are also a big reason why MSU now has a mechanical engineering program.
“This cooperative program gives students in southwest Missouri the opportunity to work with these local engineering firms while completing their degrees,” Jahnke said. “We are so very proud of the many partnerships that this cooperative program has provided.”
With the help of many others and the final addition of generous state funding, the program debuted at MSU in the fall of 2019.
Filling the gaps
With S&T being Missouri’s chief engineering school, the cooperative program gives students in the southwestern region of the state the opportunity to receive the same top-notch education.
Carroll says this is beneficial for both students and employers in the area.
“Springfield is a hub for remanufacturing engines, which is something a lot of cities don’t have,” he said. “There are also many opportunities in heating, ventilation and air conditioning in addition to production lines.”
Stepping down as director
This is Carroll’s final year as program director, but he is proud of what it has become.
“I graduated from MSU – which was SMSU when I attended – in the 1970s, and to come back and help start a program I wished I had when I was a student here is really special,” he said.
Carroll will continue to serve the program as a full-time mechanical engineering faculty member.
A student’s reflection
Ana Torres, who graduated from the program, says its small size was a big benefit.
“The smaller size of the program has enabled me and my peers to form strong relationships and support each other whenever needed,” Torres said.
The duality of the program has given her double the opportunities.
“The program has provided me with the opportunity to be involved with both Missouri State and S&T by being able to join other organizations around campus while still obtaining a great education from S&T,” Torres said.
“I also had the chance to conduct year-long research on lithium-ion batteries and travel to Washington D.C. This research experience has helped me build essential problem-solving skills and increased my confidence in presenting my work.”
She feels confident in her post-graduation future.
“Thanks to this program, I have been well-prepared for internships and my post-graduation job,” Torres said. “After graduation I’ll be moving to Kansas City, Missouri, to be a mechanical engineer in Burns & McDonnell’s electrical transmission and distribution sector.”
Torres is thankful she chose the cooperative program.
“Although I had initial doubts about joining the program, I’m now grateful for my decision, as the program’s professors genuinely care about the students, and I have formed close bonds with my peers.”