WINONA LAKE — As Grace College prepares to launch a new department of engineering this fall, over 40 local medical device, manufacturing and K-12 STEM leaders gathered for lunch on campus to learn about the program and consider their professional engagement in it.
Grace College Department of Engineering Chair Dr. Fred Wentorf organized the lunch and spoke to attendees about his vision for the program, the curriculum, his work to form the department advisory council and establish cooperative learning opportunities. Prior to coming to Grace in March, Wentorf was a principal engineer at Zimmer Biomet, where he worked since 2007. He holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Minnesota and is the author of three biomedical patents and more than 30 peer-reviewed publications.
“As we prepare to formally launch our first engineering degree – mechanical engineering – in August, we are busy finalizing the curriculum, buying equipment, hiring faculty and staff, and forming partnerships with local companies, organizations, and schools for applied learning and service opportunities,” Wentorf said.
Cooperative learning experiences will be critical for every engineering student and an important component of their Grace education. Wentorf continued, “The involvement of industry leaders here today to establish those opportunities and contribute in other ways to the development of our program will be crucial to its success.”
Brian Earl, director of knee development at Zimmer Biomet, attended the lunch and noted that while his company already has a strong integration of cooperative learning students into its workforce, “the potential to influence the [Grace College engineering] curriculum and practical experiences of the students may increase graduates’ readiness to make immediate contributions in the medical device industry.”
Earl added, “I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Grace program will include a liberal arts core and a service element; I think these are noble aims that will require real commitment from the students.”
Brian Hodorek, co-founder of Ignite Orthopedics, believes the new engineering program at Grace will benefit the orthopedic industry in several ways, in particular the internship and cooperative learning experiences that will produce “home-grown talent that has been through the orthopedic learning curve.”
Hodorek called the opportunity to collaborate with students on projects “exciting” and said as a start-up company, Ignite Orthopedics would provide students exposure “to real-life design iterations as we test parts and quickly move down the design path.”
Hodorek also commented on the number of orthopedic leaders who attended the lunch, saying “It certainly demonstrates the level of commitment and enthusiasm we have for a program that will be offered locally.”
David Daniels, spine engineering director at Orthopediatrics, said that he was encouraged to learn about Wentorf’s industry and academia background, which he believes “will give students a unique diversity of experience and wisdom” as they study at Grace. Daniels was also pleasantly surprised to learn that Grace is seeking approval from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
“Our program has received approval from the Higher Learning Commission, and we are now on the path to ABET accreditation, which denotes the highest standard of academic training and workforce preparation for engineering,” said Wentorf. “Our aim is to become a leader in engineering education.”
Grace will offer a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering beginning this fall. For more information about the Department of Engineering at Grace College or to apply, visit www.grace.edu or call (574) 372-5100, ext. 6240.