What is Engineering?
Engineering is the use of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, computers and electronics, and other items. Western breaks its engineering programs into three areas of study: Electrical & Computer Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, and Polymer Materials Engineering.
Engineering at Western
Western's Engineering programs offer hands-on learning, undergraduate research opportunities, and state of the art equipment in its laboratories.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering degree program work to research, design, develop, test, and oversee the development of electronic systems and the manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment and devices. This includes a broad range of applications and specializations that generally involve both hardware and software—areas such as power systems, communications, analog and digital signal processing, embedded systems, and control systems. Products developed by electrical and computer engineers often have significant impacts on society, like portable smart devices, medical instrumentation, electric and smart vehicles, sensor networks, and renewable and smart energy systems.
Electrical and Computer Engineering students may choose a concentration in Electronics, Energy, Wireless Networking and Signal Processing, or Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. All concentrations include a common electrical and computer engineering core which includes courses in digital and analog electronics, embedded microcontrollers, communications, and controls.
This concentration focuses on the development, design, and application of circuits, devices, and firmware for embedded systems, and includes advanced digital and analog electronics content.
This concentration addresses the sources, generation, control, and utilization of electric power, energy conversion and storage, and smart power topics such as system analysis, protection and stability, solid state motor control, and industrial process control systems. Projects are normally interdisciplinary, in collaboration with faculty in the Institute for Energy Studies.
Wireless Networking and Signal Processing
This concentration offers courses in digital signal processing, advanced communication systems, and networking technologies, and leads to an understanding of the design of wireless communication systems and networks.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
This concentration focuses on techniques that process and analyze data to enable machines to make predictions and decisions to accomplish complex tasks, and provides an overview of the use of ML and AI in engineering, the fundamental principles and algorithms, and the impact of ML and AI on humans and society.
The Manufacturing Engineering curriculum is based on the Society for Manufacturing Engineering's Four Pillars: Materials & Manufacturing Processes; Product, Tooling & Assembly Engineering; Manufacturing Systems & Operations; and Manufacturing Competitiveness. Students in the program choose an emphasis in Computer-Aided Design (CAD) or Robotics, and the subsequent courses are designed through close collaboration with a committee of industry experts, preparing graduates to be professionally competitive upon graduation.
Polymer Materials Engineering
Students working on a degree in Polymer Materials Engineering study the relationship between molecular structure, material properties and performance, and the manufacturing of polymers, composites materials, and products. Polymer materials engineers either make the products you use, make the materials that are turned into those products, or make the machines that help build those products.
Polymer Materials Engineering students gain authentic experiences using commercial plastics and composites processing equipment, use advanced materials characterization instrumentation, conduct applied and interdisciplinary engineering research, model technical processes, apply principles of designed experimentation, and learn and practice high-level technical and professional communication skills. Western’s PME program was named in 2020 one of the best programs of its kind in public higher education.
Engineering students have broad access to participate in the research being done by their faculty, from unlocking the potential of recycling ocean plastics in Alaska to building and designing a more resilient national energy infrastructure. Engineering students complete internships with cutting edge firms in the private sector as well, at companies such as PACCAR, Boeing, Fluke, Blue Seas Systems, Nike, Zodiac, SpaceX, and more.
Western has given me the knowledge to pursue a degree in my major along with countless internship opportunities and experience. In one of my projects, I helped construct the new KWVC station equipment and studio to transmitter link in Bellingham.
Electrical and Computer Engineering Student
Organizations and Clubs
Mentorship, research, and peer-to-peer interaction opportunities abound at Western through student clubs such as the Materials Science Club, SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science), WWU Racing, the Student Robotics Club, and the National Society for Black Engineers.
If we can figure out new ways to reduce and repurpose existing plastics instead of making new ones, that would be hugely beneficial and a big leap forward.
Polymer Materials Engineering student, discussing her research on the re-use of ocean plastics
What can you do with an Engineering degree?
The job market for Western's Engineering graduates is very good, and the degree programs are consistently rated among the top programs at Western for both placement and salary. Recent engineering graduates have gone on to start new careers at companies such as PACCAR, Boeing, Fluke, Alpha Technologies, General Motors, Microsoft, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, Kenworth, and more.
- Supervision and Technical Analysis and Design
- Design and Development Engineer
- Embedded Systems
- Manufacturing Engineer
- Modeling & Analysis using CAD/CAM/CAE
- Design & Fabrication of Products, Tooling, and Equipment
- Systems Integration
- Energy market analyst
- Composite Design Engineer
- Plastics Engineer
- Material Scientist