Director of engineering hired to lead growing program
As the Engineering Science major nears the end of a highly successful first year, Carthage is taking steps to build on that early momentum.
In July, the College will welcome Robert Nagel as its first director of engineering. He’s an associate professor at James Madison University in Virginia, where he also directs the Center for Innovation in Engineering Education.
“I am thrilled that Robert Nagel is taking the helm of our new engineering program,” said President John Swallow. “He will ably lead the expansion of the program’s reach and impact to meet the needs of the region.”
Prof. Nagel will guide the growth of Engineering Science, a program the Physics and Astronomy Department launched last fall. Offering more flexibility than a traditional undergraduate engineering degree, it teaches students to design systems and apply technology that can solve all kinds of problems.
As of mid-March, nearly 500 students applying to Carthage for 2022-23 listed Engineering Science as a potential major.
“There’s growing awareness of the value of our program,” said Ashley Hanson, associate vice president for admissions. “Our Engineering Science major allows students to master their subject area while honing the critical thinking and soft skills that always stand at the center of a Carthage liberal arts education.”
Other academic offerings in engineering are likely to follow. As director, Prof. Nagel will work with faculty and administrators to develop those, with ultimate plans to secure ABET accreditation. The College intends to transform a portion of Lentz Hall into lab, classroom, and office space for engineering.
Another key focus for Prof. Nagel is to form new regional partnerships that give Carthage students access to internships and hands-on projects. At James Madison, he has developed engineering design learning opportunities with companies like Northrop Grumman, Stanley Black & Decker, and General Motors.
Prof. Nagel holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University. His research in engineering education is grounded in design theory and methodology, a systematic approach to problem-solving in the field, with collaborators at Georgia Tech, Purdue, and Florida Polytechnic universities.
In addition, he established a campus-wide faculty mentorship program inspired by the school’s partnership in the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN).
“Design is the crux of engineering: It drives creation, defines options, and involves the integration of knowledge to seek the best possible solution,” he said. “I am excited to bring my philosophy of engineering to the development of Carthage’s program.”
Another newcomer, Kathryn Hasz, will join the faculty to teach engineering courses. After earning a Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2020, she moved on to the University of Colorado as a postdoctoral researcher.
“The idea of a uniquely Carthage engineering program – one that builds on the strengths of our curriculum, our region, and our exceptional faculty – has been at the core of our planning from the beginning,” said Professor Deanna Byrnes, dean of the Division of Natural and Social Sciences.
“Both Robert and Kathryn bring powerful perspectives from their own liberal arts backgrounds, experiences in innovative teaching, and professional accomplishments that align perfectly with our goals,” she continued. “They get what we’re trying to build here, and we are very happy to have them on the team.”