Christians in Engineering & Technology
March 2007

This newsletter is published is a joint publication of the ASA CEST and the CES, distributed no more than once per month. You can sign up to receive an email notification when a new newsletter is available. To submit an article for the newsletter, contact the editor, Steve VanderLeest.


Engineering Departments at Christian Colleges and Universities

Many of our readers are on the faculty of engineering departments at Christian colleges and universities. Many other readers are graduates of these programs. A simple list of engineering programs at Christian colleges and universities is available on the CES website. We would like to begin a series of articles highlighting one of these programs each month, providing more in-depth descriptions. The first one appears in this issue, providing an overview of the program at Olivet. What would you like to see in these articles? What is important to know about a program? If you would be willing to write the article for your institution, please contact the editor, Steve VanderLeest.

American Scientific Affiliation Conference

Call for Papers and Posters: The 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation, to be held jointly with Christians in Science at University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland August 2-5, 2007. See for more information.

International Conference on Faith-Based Engineering Missions

This conference will be held on the campus of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee August 3-5, 2007. For more information, contact Dr. Gwinn, or see

Prayer Request

The keynote speaker at the 2006 Christian Engineering Education Conference was Peter Bosscher.  He has just learned that he has stage-4 cancer.  Please pray for him and his family.

CEEC Dinner In Honolulu

Will you be at ASEE in Hawaii this summer?  Join us dinner!  We try to get together for a meal at ASEE in the years between the biannual CEEC.  We plan to meet at a restaurant in Honolulu near the ASEE conference site on Monday evening, June 25.  We’re not certain of the time yet, but we will likely start sometime between 5:30pm and 7:30pm local time.  The cost is likely to be around $25 or $30 per person.  We need a tentative count in order to make a reservation, so please RVSP to Melani Plett,, with the following information:  name, school/institution, email address, cell phone, your hotel name in Honolulu.  If you are coming with your spouse, please provide your spouse’s name as well. 

CEEC2008 in Pittsburgh

The next Christian Engineering Education Conference will be June 25-27, 2008 near Pittsburgh (the ASEE site that year).  We are still finalizing a site, but please put these dates on your calendar.  Please consider volunteering for our steering committee to help make plans for this conference.  We need organizers, reviewers, worship leaders/readers/accompanists, and more.  Please contact Steve VanderLeest,, and indicate how you could help.

Program Profile

Engineering at Olivet Nazarene
by Rodney Korthals

Olivet Nazarene University is associated with the Nazarene Church, a Wesleyan-Armenian tradition. Olivet was started in the town of Olivet in south-central Illinois in 1907. In 1938 the central administration building burned down. Fortunately, Olivet College was able to purchase the bankrupt St. Viator campus and moved to Bourbonnais, Illinois, about 2 hours south of Chicago along Interstate 57. It was then that the college adopted the name Olivet Nazarene College. In 1986 we had grown to the point that the college was reorganized and took the title Olivet Nazarene University. In 2007 we will celebrate our centennial year.
There are 4400 students (2400 undergraduates) enrolled at Olivet, and 63 students are Engineering majors. Our program has being growing. We are averaging about 20-25 new students each year. The average graduating class for the Engineering program is about ten students. The largest departments at Olivet are the departments of Education and of Theology and Christian Ministry departments. Engineering is one of the medium sized departments. The Computer Science major presently is smaller.
We have a department chair, Dr. Ivor Newsham, and three other faculty in the engineering department: Mike Morgan, Joe Schroeder and Dr. Rodney Korthals. Dr. Newsham is the senior faculty member in our department, having been here since 1972. Mr. Schroeder has been in the department five years and Dr. Korthals three years. The department is part of the school of professional studies. All departments that are in the school of professional studies have outside accreditation. That is how we end up in a college with Business, Communication, Exercise and Sports Science, Family and Consumer Sciences, Nursing, and Social Work and Criminal Justice.. The two faculty members in Computer and Information Sciences are presently in the school of Professional studies as a separate department.
The engineering department was started at Olivet in 1988, and was first accredited by ABET in 2000. We have a General Engineering Degree at present, with concentrations in electrical or mechanical engineering. We are in the process of developing a new computer engineering major; hopefully this will be approved by the college this April.
Our program in General Engineering offers students a well-rounded background. We have had excellent placement in mechanical, electrical, and other engineering fields. We have several graduates working for former professors who are now local consultants. Mike Gingerich and his partner do land surveying and develop drainage and other civil engineering projects. Eric Erickson and E2i consultants specialize in automating production for chemical and pharmaceutical companies. We have been active in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) mini-Baja competition for several years now, and have several seniors this year who are finding jobs in the automotive industry. Another interesting project one of our recent graduates is working on at the University of Kentucky is a sensor system to perform spectral analysis of rocks for a future Mars rover.
We have an Engineering Club and an ASME Student Section. The Engineering club is a social group that organizes game nights, pizza parties, and a one-day design-and-build competition every semester. Popular design contests are pop-bottle rockets and potato-guns. As already mentioned, we have several students active in the mini-Baja competition sponsored by SAE. This is led by some of the seniors as part of their design project, but in order to get enough workers they involve whoever will come as part of the team. The seniors this year have done an exceptional job of involving the underclassmen. Involving underclassmen was a lesson they learned last year when there were only two senior mechanical engineers on the project, and they had to include them in the development of the car.
Our biggest challenge right now is a decline in student numbers. We are working very hard to improve in this area, and are getting support in this from the admissions department and the senior administrators. As with many other engineering departments, we also are working on ways to retain more of the students who enter the program. As part of the retention effort, we have been working on our freshman design class to encourage students by showing them more of the final engineering outcomes during this time when they get discouraged by the hard work of the core science classes in math, physics, and chemistry.

A typical load for students would be 17-18 hours per semester. The senior year students will have a lighter load of around 15 hours. This “light-load” their last year is more than filled up with the extra work that they do on their senior projects.  The whole university went to faculty loads of 12-hours per semester this past year, but that was not a significant change for the engineering faculty.



This page is maintained by Steve VanderLeest at Calvin College.
It was last modified on 19-Mar-2007.