Board of Trustees Recap for Aug. 18

Editor’s Note: After each Board of Trustees meeting, Western Today provides a recap of decisions and discussion.

Trustees Hear Update on Engineering programs, Tour Labs

Western’s Board of Trustees on Friday heard an update on engineering programs at Western, and toured several campus engineering labs.

Brad Johnson, dean of the WWU College of Science and Engineering, said that the state Legislature approved additional funding in 2013-15 that allowed the WWU Department of Engineering Technology (ETEC) to transition to the Department of Engineering and Design. Also, that funding enabled transition of three ETEC programs to engineering programs: Plastics and Composites Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.

Johnson noted the three engineering programs have successfully graduated two cohorts of students (June 2016 and June 2017). Following the first cohort of graduates, the department became eligible for ABET accreditation, and undertook the task of developing and submitting program self-study data and other materials, culminating in an accreditation site visit during fall of 2016. Johnson noted that the site visit was extremely successful, as accreditors lauded the basic structure, the preparation, mission and execution of the three programs.

Having reached the accreditation plateau, the department is now focused on building out the programs in accordance with a comprehensive six-year plan, including expansion of Electrical Engineering (with the addition of a master's degree in EE) and Industrial Design, integration of the vehicle program into an accredited model, and development of long-term industrial/corporate partnerships and co-investment opportunities for all programs.   

Johnson said growth in the engineering programs is constrained by realistic enrollment capacity and space limitations.

The trustees also toured plastics and composites engineering, manufacturing engineering and electrical engineering labs on campus, where they viewed projects by students and faculty, with many of the projects being developed in partnership with related industries, as well as new equipment and technology. They also visited Western’s planetarium, with Johnson explaining how the planetarium had been upgraded and is an excellent resource for campus and community educational activities.

In other business, the trustees:

  • Trustee and Board Chair Sue Sharpe thanked President Sabah Randhawa for the message sent out to campus recently regarding the racist violence in Charlottesville.  
  • Heard an overview of the proposed financing plan for the Viking Union expansion – Ethnic Student Center/Multicultural Services. The consultant team is proceeding with the design development phase, which will be complete by early October 2017. The consultants recently met with project stakeholders to discuss interior design and identity. The project schedule shows the project design continuing until the end of 2017 with construction starting in early 2018.  Dawson Construction, the project general contractor, continues to work with the design team and University to investigate the existing site and building, and offer constructability suggestions.

Meeting documents are available at the Board of Trustees website. The dates for the next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees are Oct. 12 and 13


Tour images by Rhys Logan

Monday, August 21, 2017 - 2:38pm