New engineering program takes shape

Melinda Frank – Copy Editor

Engineering at MVNU is in full swing, and the dean of the new program says it’s here to stay.

8 dr. richard sutherland

Dr. Richard Sutherland

With almost 20 students in the inaugural class, the campus is eager to see what’s next for MVNU’s newest academic program. The future of the program lies in the capable hands of Dr. Richard Sutherland, dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences.

While Sutherland himself is not an engineer, he has a good understanding of the profession. Before coming to MVNU four years ago he spent 30 years working as a physicist.

4 Engineeringb

Photo by Blake Albright: Professor David Winyard tests the new equipment in the engineering workshop.

“I was doing applied physics, so consequently I ended up working with engineers and doing work that was similar in some ways,” Sutherland said. “I’m familiar with it from that aspect, and I know how fun it is and how rewarding it is.”

First year engineering students can expect to “come prepared, get ready to roll up your sleeves and work at it,” he said.

Hands-on learning will play a significant part in the program as students learn to accept the process of trial and error.

“They’ll get some hands-on experience with tools and design projects; they’ll make some things, and they’ll break some things,” Sutherland said.

With over 30 patents to his name, Sutherland is no stranger to the scientific process. One of his most significant projects involves the creation of dynamic holograms.

“We came up with some new materials and some new methods for making some unusual optical devices,” Sutherland said.

Potential applications for the holograms include wearable displays such as eyeglasses, and use in video and telecommunications devices. Another application might be in the field of biochemistry, detecting the presence of pathogens, hazardous chemicals and biochemical weapons.

As the engineering department begins to take shape, Sutherland is joined by new faculty member David Winyard. Winyard has a background in the field of mechanical engineering and has worked on defense logistics for the U.S. Navy.

Looking ahead about five years, Sutherland said he would like to see a robust program running 70 majors or more under an ABET accreditation. Future plans include participation in design competitions, missions trips, and involvement with local engineering companies.

“We want to do that in a Christian environment and help them to learn that it is a great opportunity for them to serve,” Sutherland said. “By being an engineer you can serve Christ and humanity in wonderful ways.”