Engineering program leads to degrees, experience

By Dariush Shafa, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Sunday, June 26, 2011

It’s an arrangement that’s been on the books for years, but now educators at Kentucky Wesleyan College are seeking to spread the word about a program that can help students not only get two degrees, but also gain critical experience that can lead to good job prospects.

KWC, working in conjunction with the University of Kentucky, allows students to attend both institutions in a 3-2 pattern. Students attend three years at KWC and then attend their last two years at UK. One such student who will be following this pattern is senior Jay Mir, a 26-year-old ex-Marine.

“The idea is that Jay gets all his pre-engineering requirements and all his general education requirements here,” said Buxton Johnson, a professor of physics at KWC. “Then, he transfers to UK and completes his engineering degree, and he also gets a physics degree from (KWC).”

Once their education is complete, these students can also rely on their KWC connection to net them some time working in the real world.

Tony Huff, who runs the engineering firm Tony Huff and Associates in Owensboro, said it benefits both sides.

Huff has had six interns in nine years that have come through the program.

“It gives the students the ability to work on the second and third aspects of their resumé, (education is first, experience second and references third). It gives them exposure to the real world. We’re able to develop them and give them a jump start,” Huff said. “It’s amazing for employers because it gives us additional skilled people to help out. It also gives us an opportunity to look at potential future engineers.”

Johnson came to KWC in 1995 and the program and arrangement with UK had been on the books prior to that, but it wasn’t used very often. The goal now is to change that and encourage more students to try the path.

Jeremy Corley 28, went through the program and completed his engineering degree in 2006. He’s interned with Tony Huff’s group and is preparing to take the civil engineering exam this fall.

“I think the program really helped me make the transfer from high school to college,” said Corley, who is originally from Hawesville. “The experience working with Tony helped me later on. The program really helped me get my foot in the door without having to jump in head-first.”

Mir said the program has helped him ramp up his capabilities for the tougher topics that are soon to come.

“I find myself paying a lot more attention to detail. Just the internship is helping me tremendously,” Mir said. “You see the business aspect of it, the engineering aspect of it.”

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