Loras Expanding Focus with New Mechanical Engineering Major

From learning how robots move to understanding loops in a roller coaster to gaining knowledge of how airplanes fly, Loras students will have a new choice when selecting their major with the introduction of mechanical engineering this fall.

Mechanical engineering is the branch of engineering that focuses on movement. This means students will have classes focused on machine design, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics. All of these topics will be studied both theoretically as well as in the lab. Mechanical engineering is considered the most broadly applicable field of engineering. Students in the program will have opportunities to be employed in manufacturing, construction, HVAC design and many others.

“This adds to the already existing offerings in engineering at Loras, where we currently offer electromechanical, biomedical, and computer engineering options,” Kristen Thompson, Ph.D., associate professor of engineering, said. “These are all Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) accredited as General Engineering programs. We are planning to have the new ME program ABET accredited as well.”

All the engineering programs are centered around a core of engineering, math, and science classes. The mechanical engineering program augments the existing offerings with new classes in Material Science, Machine Design, Instrumentation, and Heat Transfer. To implement this new program, Loras has hired Aaron Joy, Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.

“At the undergraduate level, mechanical engineering is the area of engineering most sought by students and has the largest enrollment in the country of all the engineering disciplines,” Donna Heald, provost and academic dean, said. “Students who want to pursue the specialization of mechanical engineering will now have this option available to them in addition to the existing General Engineering program. Mechanical engineering is also an area of high demand from employers.”

As part of the new major, Science Hall will soon be home to a mechanical engineering lab that houses the labs for Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, Machine Design, and Fluid mechanics. The centerpiece for the lab is a new wind tunnel that was donated to the College. This renovation is funded by donations in honor of Dr. Joe Schaefer, a former professor at Loras, now at Iowa State University.

Learn more about all Loras’ engineering programs as loras.edu/engineering.

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2020, Loras was ranked the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the fourth consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 12th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).