“It’s a badge of honor really,” graduating senior Deyton Riddle said, “not only to have an engineering degree, but to have the trailblazing degree going through Angelo State.”
“It’s the culmination of the program,” added Dr. William Kitch, department chair of the David L. Hirschfeld Department of Engineering. “This is what we’re here to do - graduate engineers - and we’ve finally gotten there. It’s really exciting.”
Riddle, an engineering-physics double major, will be joined by fellow graduates Matthew Holmes, Ty Lee, Luis Lozano and Caleb Miller in December. Lozano is one of the first students to transfer from Southwest Texas Junior College (SWTJC) as part of a program funded by the $2.87 million grant awarded to Angelo State from the U.S. Department of Education in August 2014. Under the program, SWTJC students are able to complete an Associate of Science in Engineering Sciences degree then transfer to ASU to complete their bachelor’s degree.
“I’ve been interested in engineering since high school,” Lozano said, “but I still wasn’t sure which type of engineering to choose. Then I heard about the program at ASU, and it sounded interesting. The program has been great for me.”
Since its conception, the department has seen a steady stream of growth and support. In 2017, the doors of the Hunter Strain Engineering Labs opened, thanks to an anonymous $4.5 million gift. The labs provide the department ample space to accommodate both the students and the engineering equipment.
“We’re really starting to build the labs to where we want them to be,” Kitch said. “We couldn’t do it without that space. Plus, in many ways, that’s really our engineering home. It’s the center of engineering on campus, both physically and symbolically.”
“We’re just growing so fast,” he added. “We were expecting to have 75 students by our third year – we now have over 190.”
With the first five of those students graduating this fall, the program’s sights are now set on accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which could not begin until the program graduated its first students.
“Our biggest goal is to get our accreditation,” Kitch said. “This is absolutely our number one goal next year. It’s an incredibly important milestone. It’s essential to the program.”
With the first round of graduates under their belt, another goal will be to look at the continuous improvement of the curriculum.
“We feel like we have the foundation built, and now we’re ready to just improve upon that foundation,” Kitch said. “We’re at the stage where we can actually breathe and start improving.”
“I think our students should feel very confident in the foundation they got here,” he continued. “When they leave here, the sky’s the limit, whether they want to go directly into the workforce or pursue their master’s degree. They should be confident in their abilities and their future. ”
“The faculty have really prepared us,” Riddle said. “I feel prepared, not only to become a successful engineer, but to be ready for the workplace and to work on a team to come up with the best solution for our infrastructure.”
Meet the Fundamental Five
Hometown: Piedras Negras, Mexico
“I think the program is great. You can choose from different specialties, like structural classes, or you can also focus on water design, to name a few. I think we are prepared for our future jobs.”
“It is a great honor to be part of the first class graduating with an engineering degree. It makes the long and difficult road worth it.”
Hometown: San Angelo
“I look forward to seeing how the engineering program continues to grow and develop. I think it serves to meet a real need in the West Texas community.”
“I am happy to receive an engineering degree from Angelo State. The goal of the department to make ‘practice-ready engineers’ has made a huge impact on my perception and knowledge of engineering.”
Hometown: San Angelo
“I knew that whatever I wanted to do, I wanted to help society as much as possible. Civil engineering just seemed like a good fit because it’s working on all the infrastructure society needs to exist and grow and prosper.”