Story originally published in June 2014.
BUIES CREEK -- Campbell University has secured the services of Dr. Paul Kauffmann, professor emeritus of engineering at East Carolina University, to serve as a consultant as it works toward launching the proposed Bachelor of Science in Engineering program that the Board of Trustees approved this past spring. Kauffmann will help Campbell advance and hone its early feasibility study for the engineering degree and provide guidance on program development.
“Paul has an outstanding pedigree, and he’ll be an incredible resource,” Campbell Provost Mark L. Hammond said. “He’s looking at finances and facility plans. He’s going to help us understand our lab space and square footage needs. He’s going to help us finalize what should be the size of the program and the type of concentrations we should offer at the onset.
“Paul is going to help us take the steps we need to take to begin building this program from the ground up in a manner consistent with ABET accreditation.”
Kauffmann has experience in starting B.S. in Engineering programs. He joined East Carolina in 2003 to establish its engineering program, which welcomed its first students in 2004. Prior to that, Kauffmann was an engineering professor at several other universities, including Old Dominion University, and worked as an engineer at Phillip Morris for 20 years. He earned his bachelor’s in electrical engineering and master’s in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Pennsylvania State University.
“I see Campbell’s vision for an engineering program as a huge positive for the university and for the state of North Carolina,” Kauffmann said. “The program will help fill a need for more engineers and a more globally-competitive workforce in North Carolina. Engineering will also add to Campbell’s portfolio of excellent science- and mathematics-oriented programs. I’m glad to be a small part of the university’s efforts and to help with this planning process.”
Campbell announced in May that its trustees approved the establishment of a B.S. in Engineering program, which will initially emphasize preparing students to be general engineers. Concentrations may grow after the launch, particularly in areas that align with Campbell’s health sciences programs.
Hammond said Wednesday the feasibility study will be fleshed out and refined over the summer and early fall, with the recruitment of the new dean for the program beginning later this fall. He anticipates the dean arriving in the summer of 2015, with the first engineering students enrolling in the fall of 2016, pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Paul Kauffmann, professor emeritus of engineering at East Carolina University, was on Campbell University’s main campus on Wednesday, June 25, to meet with administrators and faculty about Campbell’s proposed Bachelor of Science in Engineering program. He spoke to Campbell.edu about why this degree program is needed and why Campbell is well-positioned to add it. The following is an edited transcript.
What are your impressions of Campbell?
I’m impressed with the faculty and the people. I’m impressed with the synergy, commitment and focus that everybody has to make the university the best it can be for the students. And I’m impressed with the vision. Obviously I’m a little bit pro-engineering, but the vision of adding engineering seems to be a great move. It’s perfect timing for it, and it’s what the world and what North Carolina needs.
Why does the state need Campbell to start this engineering program?
North Carolina is not producing enough engineers. You can look at the Bureau of Labor statistics and various ratios. You can look at the number of B.S. in Engineering degrees produced in North Carolina versus in Virginia as an example. North Carolina is behind in these statistics. None of us can predict the global economy and the future, but there is broad agreement that we need a larger percentage of the population and those newly entering the workforce to have more technical, quantitative skills. That’s why I think this is the right time and the right place.
What makes Campbell the right place?
We can start geographically with its location in the middle of the state. It’s in a very good position in relation to Charlotte and eastern North Carolina, with the Research Triangle Park and Durham above us, and with Fayetteville and Wilmington within reasonable distances.
More importantly, there’s a basis of solid programs at Campbell that the engineering program can interrelate with. That’s really a critical thing. And the faculty being willing to collaborate and to make the sums of the parts better than the individual parts -- that’s a unique attribute I see here. The Campbell community wants to see the best for the university. It’s great if the program doesn’t have to grow in a vacuum and if it can grow in a collaborative effort. I see that as being a high likelihood that it’ll happen here.
Campbell’s proposed program will educate and train engineering generalists, like East Carolina’s. What’s the advantage of this approach?
Not to be critical of engineering, but over the last 25 to 30 years, you see engineering becoming much more stove-piped, which is a word much used for domain specific. I’ll give you an example. Engineering graphics is a basic skill -- being able to complete an engineering drawing to represent your design. This used to be a course that 99.5 percent of engineers took. Now you can hardly find that course in many degree programs such as chemical programs, electrical programs, and the list goes on. That’s one simple example of where perhaps the world has become too domain specific and not broad enough.
The beauty of a B.S. in Engineering degree is you can provide the best mix of core skills. You can address what the engineer of the 21st century needs, and then you can integrate a specific additional group of courses that are domain focused. So the engineering student of the 21st century that will graduate from Campbell in a few years will be able to adapt his or her career as technology changes. We all know the world of the 21st century is going to be changing technology every so many years, and engineers are going to have to learn and grow and use and be proficient in and understand these evolving systems. The basic idea of being broad enough for the 21st century, to adapt your skillset, is the beauty of what the B.S. in Engineering brings.
What have you learned about what it takes to build a solid engineering program?
A key thing I’ve learned from East Carolina is that the program needs to be human, which is obviously not a problem for Campbell. When I say “human,” I mean we need to care about students and give them an opportunity and not let them get hemmed by possible hiccups in high school. At the same time, you need to let them know that engineering careers are tough. I see that support system here.
Also, understanding the mission of the university is critical, as well as the idea of collaboration. The opportunities that can come with collaborating with the medical school and with the pharmaceutical sciences here are all wonderful. It’s important to build those relationships as soon as you possibly can. I definitely see the openness and willingness here to do it. -- by Cherry Crayton