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ENC Physics and Engineering – A New Brand Of Education

Posted by Dr. Pierre-Richard Cornely on Mar 22, 2016 1:00:00 PM

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The United States is currently facing some very important decisions about the future of Higher Education. While we continue to hold the largest number of the best scientists in the world, the gap between these scientists and the next group of best US scientists has been steadily growing in the last 10 years. Many countries in the European block such as Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and recently Great Britain, have moved to higher education reform by adopting an apprenticeship system. In this system, undergraduate students are receiving a lot of practical experience while fulfilling the traditional 4-year of basic preparation. These countries have implemented this change using a renewed emphasis on extensive laboratory work, well beyond what is currently being used to demonstrate basic theoretical concepts. They have also developed some very close partnerships with the corporate sector. These partnerships allow their students to begin developing a profound understanding of product development while earning their degrees. On the other hand, the average graduate in the US, with a Bachelor of Science degree, is facing a number of unexpected challenges:

  • His skill levels are below the standard of most European countries, particularly for these countries that have adopted the apprenticeship system.
  • His college education is becoming more expensive and unaffordable.
  • His prospects for a good job after graduation is becoming more doubtful.
  • His ability to compete in world markets is rapidly declining.

Eastern Nazarene College’s Physics and Engineering Department has been aware of these trends and as a result, we have moved swiftly within the last three years to adapt a brand of education that is highly competitive.

First, we have reinforced the laboratory components of our basic 4-year curriculum to include a very extensive amount of scientific investigations, well beyond the basic theoretical concepts acquired in the classroom. With the new labs, students are challenged to learn how to write effectively and to present their results in a manner suitable to a typical client in industry.

Second, we have introduced a fair amount of product design and development experience to the curriculum by upgrading the Senior Design course sequence. In this sequence, a student develops an abstract architecture (inter-related blocks) based on basic requirements from a customer (first semester), designs the blocks (hardware and Software) to satisfy customer requirements (second semester) and creates two presentations, one technical and one general that he will use to present and defend his results (third semester). The student also needs to publish his results in a referred undergraduate journal.

At the end of this process, the student has developed a fair amount of familiarity with the systems engineering product development cycle. The student also develops a very good understanding of academic research and can place this understanding within the context of his contribution to basic science as well as the endeavors of the world markets. This model rivals the apprenticeship system used in Europe and makes our students extremely competitive on the job market or with their applications to graduate school. The model also provides means for the undergraduate students of the future to receive a first grade Christian, Liberal Arts education at a very reasonable cost. One of the main instruments that we use to support the senior design course sequence, is an open lab concept containing all of the basic tools to facilitate free thinking and innovation. This open lab concept, housed by our advanced computation lab, is equipped with state of the art tools that allow us to provide to our students an environment that nurtures creativity and innovation.

For more detailed information about some of the exciting projects ENC students are working on, please visit our Physics and Engineering website to learn more about the Enginneering Tools ENC students are using.

Written by Dr. Pierre-Richard Cornely

Dr. Cornely’s background includes many roles in both the Corporate world and in Academia. In Corporate, he has served as President and CEO of 374’s Electric Power Corporation, Project Manager at Synergy Incorporated and a Senior Systems Engineer at Raytheon. As an academic, Dr. Cornely has developed a novel class of algorithms, commonly known as: "Flexible Prior models", to predict the variations in the Earth's ionosphere in near real time. These algorithms have been quite useful for correcting Radar and Communication propagation errors in Civilian Aviation and several important military applications. Recently, Dr. Cornely has adapted these algorithms to earthquake forecasting, a novel idea that relates ionospheric variations to the movement of tectonic plates, an important problem facing earth and atmospheric scientists, as well as the people living on our beloved planet.

Topics: Physics and Engineering, ENC Faculty, Education, Academics, Engineering, Physics, Technology