What Graduates Say About Engineering 3/2

Graduates of the Centenary Engineering 3/2 program enjoy a well-rounded preparation for participation in professional life and further studies. Here's what some of our graduates say about their experiences:

Richard Lopez

Centenary B. A. in Physics 2011
Washington University B. S. in Mechanical Engineering 2011

I graduated in May of 2011 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.A. in physics from Centenary. Having completed the 3/2 program, I can proudly say that it was an excellent path for me to take.

The three years I spent at Centenary prior to transferring to WashU prepared me for the extensive engineering coursework and work-world in many ways. At Centenary, we get an incredibly strong mathematics, science, and liberal arts background through small class sizes and amazing professors. When I transferred, I had the knowledge to exceed in any field. I could think through and solve intensive math/science problems, write better than most engineers I encounter, and communicate my knowledge to people of all backgrounds. WashU was a big change: larger classes, 18 hours of math and engineering classes each semester, and professors that could not communicate as well. My first semester there started rougher than I was accustomed to, but I adjusted within a month or two and went on to graduate at the top of my class. I was able to do this because my Centenary experience taught me to adapt to any situation.
Adaptability from Centenary and engineering knowledge from WashU have gone on to serve me well after graduation. I now work for an engineering consulting firm in Houston, TX called CMTA Engineers. We design high performance buildings which includes the first net zero school in the country. I collaborate closely with engineering mentors and architects to cut the energy usage of HVAC systems in the buildings we design. My first job out of WashU was actually at a similar firm in Houston; however, their work was more focused on quick production through “cookie cutter” designs. During my time there, I impressed the people I work with enough that CMTA contacted me directly based on a reccommendation received from a former employee. They hired me based on two things: the reccommendation and my educational success. In other words, my job, which is on the forefront of building design and innovation, culminated from my experience as a 3/2 graduate at Centenary and WashU.

As a student or prospective student deciding on your college path, I strongly recommend that you consider Centenary’s 3/2 program. It is a chance to gain valuable experience to prepare you for the future while meeting amazing people and exploring many environments.

Brandon Larson

Centenary B. A. in Physics 2005
Washington University B. S. in Mechanical Engineering 2005
Washington University M. S. in Mechanical Engineering 2006
Currently a Design Engineer and Project Leader at the Boeing Company, Los Angeles

Brandon Larson

If not for the 3/2 program at Centenary, I would not be where I am today. Being an Engineer is a fascinating and rewarding job, but being an Engineer and having the social and communication skills of liberal arts student - that's real power. The ability to solve incredibly hard problems means less without the ability to communicate those findings to any audience, and unfortunately, many 4 year engineers lack this skill. The education I received at Centenary coupled with my engineering education at WashU have become a total package which gives me added insight in many situations and often helps me be more creative in my problem solving. I've stayed in contact with many of my classmates from 3/2 program and all have had opportunities to rise above their colleagues (4 year engineering student) simply because of the breadth of experience brought on by their liberal arts backgrounds. Centenary taught me how to think, Wash U taught me how to solve problems.

My recommendation: If you want to be an engineer, do it the way that will pay off the most in the end, graduate from Centenary as a 3/2 Engineer!

James Reed

Centenary B. A. in Physics 2009
Washington University B. S. in Mechanical Engineering 2009

James Reed

After spending my years at Centenary I transferred to Washington University in St. Louis to continue my education and to obtain a B.S. in Civil Engineering.

The initial plan was to spend two years at Washington University and complete my degree, but after spending a semester at Washington University, I was given the option to study abroad. I had always wanted to study abroad in college, but due to certain circumstances I was not sure if I was going to have time to. Needless to say, once I was given the option, I immediately took action to make studying abroad possible.

I had always known that if I was going to study abroad, I would want to enroll in an institute for the academic year. After studying my choices, I chose Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. I picked this for several reasons: Washington University had sent students to Trinity previously so the process of transferring classes would be simplified, and the classes taught in Dublin were in English. I also had never been to Ireland but always wanted to, so Trinity College seemed to be the best place to study.

I spent the following semester at Washington University talking to the Assistant Dean, the Engineering Registrar, and my advisor to ensure that I would be able to study abroad my final year and still graduate on time. All of these people were supportive in my efforts and with their help; I was able to study abroad.

And now I’m here in Dublin finishing my degree in Civil Engineering. After this term is over, I’ll take my exams in Dublin, be back state-side this summer, and get my degrees from Washington University and Centenary College.

With regard to the 3-2 program that has allowed me to study at Centenary, go to Washington University, and subsequently come to Dublin - I strongly believe in the effectiveness of this program.

When I was applying for internships, I believe I was bringing something more than the average engineer. The time I spent at Centenary developed my skills and knowledge in ways that most engineers are not able to during a traditional four year program. At Centenary I had time to study Latin, become involved and led the club lacrosse team, take part in campus and community activities through my social fraternity, travel to Nicaragua for intercultural experience, and to gain a degree in Physics. Each of these experiences not only enriched my life but helped develop my communication, reasoning and leadership skills (all desirable qualities). Whenever I am asked at interviews to give examples of these abilities, I have plenty to talk about.

I like to think that in the real world (i.e. when applying for jobs, graduate school, etc) it is important to try and make yourself stand out so that you can be noticed. But it is important to realize that standing out isn’t enough; once you’ve been recognized you have to prove yourself to whomever that you have what it takes. I strongly believe Centenary and the 3-2 program have successfully prepared me for exactly this.

Captain F. Brown Word

Centenary B. A. in Physics 1972
Texas A&M University B. S. in Civil Engineering 1972
Currently retired U.S. Navy P3 Pilot

My Journey To, and Through, the Centenary 3/2 Engineering Program

I grew up south of Shreveport in the small country town of Leesville, LA, and was a product of the Vernon Parish public schools. I’ve always believed one’s education was primarily the product of how much he or she put into it, and I left LHS knowing that the effort I had applied left me, shall we say, less than ideally prepared for higher education. However, also in 1967 there was a little ‘party’ being thrown in the Southeast Asian country of South Viet Nam and I preferred not to be invited, so college under any circumstances sounded pretty good.

The one strength I always had seemed to possess was the ability to take apart the mechanical and electrical devices I found around the house and then put them back together with a pretty good understanding of how they worked, frequently fixing something that had been broken. This favorite activity was about all that I applied to determining any course of study, so engineering loomed big. The problem was I ended up at Centenary College—not exactly, say, MIT when it comes to engineering—where many of the members of my family for several generations had attended. I had planned to attend Louisiana Tech, but without going into pointless details, I received my application to Centenary on a late Saturday in August of 1967 (not Centenary’s fault; I sent the request for it only four days before). The accompanying letter directed me to pack my bags and get to Shreveport immediately since freshman orientation started the following Monday. Trust me, two days should not be enough time to pack for college. However, being a guy happily living with little focus, I needed even less.

Upon arrival I was clearly faced with trying to figure out what a ‘fix-it’ kind of fellow was doing at a liberal arts college. I had some vague notion of ‘the arts that liberate,’ but what was I being liberated from…or to? In other words, I had always assumed that everyone else in my family went to Centenary for his or her liberation, but that was because they simply didn’t know how to fix anything. I was confused, which was not helped by the fact my aim was quite poor when it came to hitting the books.

It didn’t take long before I started to realize that all of the pre-med, pre-law, pre-other ‘stuff’ students were taking a variety of courses in order to get ready for training or education that would follow next, which wasn’t a bad approach for someone in the pre-engineering frame of mind. Let’s face facts, had I been at any technical school in an engineering curriculum, I would have been taking the same calculus (uh oh, bad news for the ‘fix-it’ kid with poor aim), chemistry, physics, geology, and other science courses serving as prerequisites for their engineering programs. However, they would not be taking four semesters of English, two of religion, four semesters in the ‘nary Choir, economics, psychology, French, American history, etc. unless they absolutely had to. Yet, they were routinely taking five years to finish, getting one bachelors degree, whereas I would take five years and get two degrees. With better aim I just might make this work.

If you’ve read this far, you no doubt picked up on the fact I wasn’t the picture of academic motivation. Had I been at a larger school where few on the faculty really cared if I progressed or not, the odds are reasonable I might have been at the ‘party’ in Southeast Asia. At Centenary I enjoyed a close relationship with many of the faculty, and not just in the engineering and physics department, and each one’s obvious concern, prodding, and encouragement meant the difference between failure and success.

After my three years at Centenary, I moved on to Texas A&M University to complete a degree in civil engineering. Thanks to my development at Centenary, I was now ready to take on a tough regimen of reinforced and pre-stressed concrete, soils mechanics, structural steel, highways, etc. However, there’s a bit of irony to the story. While loafing in the Student Union Building one morning during my junior year at Centenary, I noticed two US Navy officers over in an adjacent corner trying to recruit potential pilots. ABSOLUTELY NO ONE was paying them any attention (remember the ‘party’ in Viet Nam?), but with about the same preparation I had given to going to college, I found myself over with them telling them how my dad had left Centenary prior to World War II to go fly Navy planes. Next thing I know, I’m down in New Orleans taking an enlistment oath so that I could attend Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola.

So after I graduated from both Centenary and Texas A&M in the spring of 1972, I reported for the completion of officer candidate school and subsequently spent a career flying Navy P-3s. And here’s the real lesson: Of those elements of naval leadership that require college preparation, I received easily 90% of it from my liberal arts education at Centenary. The skills to communicate (particularly in writing), motivate, sympathize, etc. that I needed in order to take a squadron of officers and sailors and successfully lead them wherever we were ordered came primarily from my liberal arts education. Moreover, after I retired from the Navy and went into high tech manufacturing, guess what? It was the same thing all over again. I finally knew the answer to my original question. Centenary had liberated me from simply going with the flow to understanding and practicing leadership while simultaneously managing multiple tasks.

Thus, at age 60 I can now look back and evaluate many of my lessons learned. Attending Centenary College was easily one of the smartest decisions any engineer ever made.

Wayne Westerfield, PE

Centenary B. A. in Physics 1995
Columbia University B. S. in Civil Engineering 1995
Currently a Project Civil Engineer for URS Corporation, New Orleans

The combined plan program is an opportunity to receive all the advantages of a small liberal arts college while preparing for the rigors of an outstanding engineering program. Engineers in the twenty-first century must be well rounded individuals who can communicate effectively and work in teams. Centenary's core requirements and science education will prepare a student for any engineering program and a career after graduation. Certainly, a key component of my success as a professional can be traced back to my educational experience at Centenary College and Columbia University.

Angelique Lasseigne

Centenary B. A. in Physics 2002
Colorado School of Mines B. S. in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering 2002
Colorado School of Mines M. S. in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering 2004
Colorado School of Mines Ph. D. in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering 2006

Angelique is currently a Research Faculty Member at Colorado School of Mines