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Pre-Engineering

Engineering involves the arrangement and modification of natural materials to produce devices and processes in order to accomplish human goals quickly, economically and safely. Engineering education is divided into such fields as aeronautical, agricultural, biomedical, chemical, civil, electrical, industrial, mechanical and nuclear.

About Pre-Engineering at St. Norbert College 
While some students prefer to take a direct path to an engineering career by enrolling in a university offering engineering degrees, many others choose a path that takes them to schools like St. Norbert. Here, students can prepare for an engineering career while obtaining a broader foundation of liberal arts studies and gaining other advantages of attending a small college with a strong sense of community.

One such advantage is the possibility of close association with faculty and fellow students. Students who choose to study pre-engineering at St. Norbert College believe that the opportunity for personal attention in their basic science and math courses and the breadth of experience available in the other disciplines at the college are important in giving them a start toward a satisfying career in engineering. Indeed, if undergraduate science and math classes at SNC are chosen wisely, it is then possible to complete a master’s degree in engineering in two additional years.

Transferring to an engineering school after one to three years at St. Norbert is also an option students sometimes explore. Since the degree these students earn comes from the engineering school, they must consider the requirements of the engineering program they plan to enter when selecting courses at St. Norbert College.

Courses in a Pre-Engineering Program 
The basic science and mathematics courses for most engineering curricula are two semesters of general physics, two semesters of general chemistry, three semesters of calculus, one semester of differential equations and one semester of computer science where a high-level programming language is learned. These are all courses that can be taken at St. Norbert College and a student interested in engineering should take as many of them as possible.

The choice of other science courses at St. Norbert College will depend somewhat on the particular area of engineering in which the student is interested. Curricula for the various engineering fields have much in common during the first two years of study, but there are some differences in these years and they diverge greatly in the final two years. These curricula tend to have many specified courses. It is important for a student to try to select an engineering field and to make early contact with the engineering college to which transfer is planned.

Students who intend to transfer after one or two years at St. Norbert College should take the basic physics, chemistry and calculus courses and, as much as possible, select general education courses that match requirements of the engineering program to which they intend to transfer. A number of students who enter St. Norbert with the intention of transferring to an engineering school decide to stay here for all four years.

Students in pre-engineering are strongly advised to plan their courses in such a way that, should they retain their interest in science but decide not to transfer, they can complete a physics, mathematics or chemistry major at St. Norbert, including the St. Norbert general education requirements, within the normal four years.

Alumni Perspective

“The physics curriculum and class sizes at St. Norbert gave me the breadth and depth of knowledge needed to excel in graduate school. The students and professors were partners in teaching and learning.”

Brian Hahn ’05
Interface Engineer at Nordic Consulting Partners, Inc.

Brian studied Experimental Nuclear Physics at William & Mary (Graduated in 2008)
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