Trinity University engineers are built differently.
And that’s because our engineering science program is different by design.
Our engineers stand out from the crowd thanks to a versatile liberal arts curriculum that merges a deep understanding of not only mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering, but also that of the physical sciences, mathematics, and fields like the humanities; they stand out thanks to the rigor of a design sequence that spans all eight semesters; and they stand out thanks to access to state-of-art facilities and dedicated faculty who create elite opportunities in undergraduate research, continuing education and career prospects nationwide.
“These are really exciting times for engineering at Trinity,” says engineering science department chair Farzan Aminian. “Our focus on teaching and design, in addition to our special attention to developing students' communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills, differentiates us from hundreds of other engineering programs across the country.”
Trinity was recently named No. 29 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs by U.S. News and World Report. So—in addition to being accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and boasting a consistent 90% passing rate on the national Fundamentals of Engineering exam—what is Trinity’s engineering science program doing right?
First, Aminian says, you have to look at the curriculum. This is an engineering science program because our students aren’t forced to silo themselves into mechanical, electrical, or chemical fields, but rather dive into all three. “We have 54 hours of required courses that cover the breadth of electrical, mechanical, and chemical engineering, but then on top of that, students can also take 15 hours of electives in one or more of these three areas,” Aminian says. “And really, this allows Trinity students to be managers at companies and supervise multidisciplinary projects because of their broad background.”
So, where do the liberal arts come into play?
“Well, engineering is a profession that has to serve the society where it functions,” Aminian says. “One engineering solution that may work in one culture may not work in another. So having a liberal arts program gives students a better scope of cultural values.”
At Trinity, students have the option to take courses in different areas of the humanities, social and natural sciences because of our Pathways curriculum, which provides a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences for all bachelor's degrees. In particular, Aminian likes when students take courses in programming (now becoming a truly dominant part of engineering), business (“in case students want to explore the opportunity of having their own company and run everything as a CEO,”), and fields like art and history. “These things really add value to what you are doing with engineering,” Aminian adds.
A set of nationally acclaimed faculty enrich this curriculum with real-world experience, Aminian says.
“What always amazes me is that our faculty are coming from different backgrounds, with different expertise. Not all of us are electrical engineers, and not all of us are mechanical engineers,” Aminian says. “But given their broad backgrounds and broad base of knowledge, our faculty come together as one to deliver such a unique experience to our students. We have one mission: delivering the best curriculum.”
That curriculum is highly experiential, thanks to a determined focus on the importance of design. The design sequence, which explores the fundamentals of solving engineering design problems, is built into all eight semesters at Trinity.
Our curriculum also benefits from state-of-the art facilities and connections to opportunities in the professional and research worlds.
“The eight-semester design sequence, which focuses on the concept of ‘design, build, and test,’ emphasizes critical and creative thinking in our students, and it also works on their communication skills,” Aminian says. “And because of the unique engineering shop we have here called the MakerSpace, we have actually been able to ‘design’ better because the building phase and testing phase does not take as long as it would if our students had to go to outside vendors to buy pieces and equipment for their projects. And this in turn results in designs of higher quality.”
Trinity’s MakerSpace, a dedicated machine shop with state-of-the-art engineering equipment, gives Tigers experience in welding, 3D-printing, and CNC-machining pieces (all without the wait times of a similar facility at a larger school).
Antonio Domit ’21, an engineering science and finance double major from Mexico City, Mexico, used the space to work on Trinity’s ongoing Formula SAE racecar project, which is continually passed on to future classes to keep improving.
“You don't really think of how fortunate you are, because there's so much available to you [at Trinity],” Domit says. “We've been able to use CNC mills to fabricate parts that in most other scenarios would have to be shipped out and would not be able to be designed [by students]. We've been able to use multiple types of welders to design and build the chassis that we want. Trinity has supported us in either getting us those tools or getting us the resources necessary to be able to use them in one way or another.”
Kelly Liu ’21, an engineering science major from Houston who’s now an engineer for CEMEX USA, also benefited from Trinity’s MakerSpace. At Trinity, she worked on a field-improvised exoskeleton, known as the FIX project, which aimed to help soldiers in the field with wrist injuries stay in the field until air support arrives. The project was a joint effort with the Department of Defense, which is the exact type of connection Liu says she came to Trinity to experience. “I like that Trinity gives us opportunities to collaborate with organizations outside of school, which gives you that real-world experience before actually having a job,” she says.
Thanks to Trinity’s diverse faculty and expansive range of amenities and equipment, Aminian says that the outlook for Trinity engineering grads is beyond stellar.
“Our graduates go to very good graduate programs like Stanford, MIT, Georgia Tech, UT Austin, University of Michigan, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern University, and a lot of these programs are actually coming to us to recruit,” Aminian says. “And our graduates are also going on to great companies such as Southwest Research Institute, Google, Apple, IBM, Tesla, Space X, Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, and USAA.”
Looking to the future, Aminian points to Trinity’s emerging status as a strong partner for these companies as a strong statement as to the direction of the engineering science program.
“Today, we are more in touch with industry than we ever have been, and we’re bringing in senior design projects from sponsors who are outside of Trinity so that our students, when they take their capstone design course, have a real life experience where they actually work with somebody from a company to deliver a real-world project,” Aminian says. “This is really very similar to working for a company while you are a senior at Trinity.”
After all, Aminian says, companies and grad schools alike are always looking for engineers who design differently. As a result, these partners are going to be competing to work with Trinity students, not the other way around. “My hope is that in the near future, we'll be able to go to a place where all of our senior design projects are actually sponsored by companies who come and compete with each other for having our students on their projects.”