Partial solar eclipse event in Wilford Stadium

Solar Eclipse Abilenians viewing the solar eclipseOn October 23, about 50 Abilenians joined Dr. Wayne Keith of the McMurry Physics Department in the President’s Box at the top of Wilford Memorial Stadium to view the partial solar eclipse.

Special glasses with solar filters designed specifically for safe viewing of the eclipse were distributed to participants.

The viewing began at approximately 4:45 p.m. and ended at sunset.  Dr. Keith set up his professional telescope for those who wanted a closer look.  The photographs at left were taken during the event by Dr. Keith.

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McMurry University and the University of North Dakota Offer Engineering Degree

Through a collaborative agreement with the University of North Dakota (UND), McMurry University students will now have a unique opportunity to earn an engineering degree accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) while completing the majority of their classes in Abilene.

McMurry will deliver foundational courses in physics, chemistry, math and some introductory level engineering courses, while UND will provide upper division engineering courses online.

“The collaboration will allow students to combine solid foundations of the small liberal-arts school education with professional preparation in the large university,” said Dr. Tikhon Bykov, professor of physics and chair of the physics department at McMurry. “The University of North Dakota (UND) is the only school in the country that we know of that has a complete ABET-accredited engineering program delivered online.”

This program may be especially attractive to the local Abilene population, since currently it is the only way to obtain ABET-accredited engineering degree without leaving Abilene for an extended period of time. This program would require students to travel to UND for several weeks during one summer (Mechanical Engineering program) or two summers (Chemical Engineering program) to complete laboratory portions of some courses. ABET accreditation is important for people who are seeking engineering employment right after graduation with BS engineering degree. The number of years one must work for an engineering firm before getting engineering license is reduced for people who have graduated from an ABET-accredited program. Students will also find it easier to enter master’s level engineering programs.

“In a typical engineering program at a large university students are taking foundational courses in huge classes of several hundred people and many of them will not go past that point, since these classes are not designed to fit individual student needs,” Dr. Bykov said. “At McMurry every student will receive individual attention and we will make sure that our students have all the necessary preparation to move to the next level of specialized engineering subjects. Moreover, even when students are taking online courses from UND during their junior and senior years, they will still receive assistance from McMurry faculty.  They will not be left completely on their own.”

The program is designed as a five year program. At the end of the program students will receive two Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees. The Mechanical Engineering track will lead to BS degree in Physics with minor in Mathematics from McMurry and ABET-accredited BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from UND. The Chemical Engineering track will lead to BS degree in Chemistry with minors in Physics and Mathematics from McMurry and ABET-accredited BS degree in Chemical Engineering from UND.

Students will be getting much broader education compared to one they would have gotten by completing a standard engineering program,” said Dr. Bykov. “That would open up more career paths to these graduates including possibilities of going into graduate programs in physics or engineering as well as employment in technical fields and teaching.”

“Typical engineering preparation is very much focused on a single engineering field, while having additional physics background would allow for easier transitions from one engineering field to another in case if students’ future career paths would require such a transition. And, as we all know, changing career paths is not an uncommon situation in the modern day economy,” said Dr. Bykov.

Our thanks go to Dr. Tikhon Bykov, assisted by Dr. Ed Donnay, for the crafting of this agreement.

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