Make it two

Written by Beth Miller. Photos by Devon Hill.

Dual Degree program

These students have taken advantage of the 45-year-old Dual Degree program, in which students attend a liberal arts college or university for three to four years earning a bachelor’s degree, then come to Washington University in St. Louis to earn a second bachelor’s degree in engineering. The program — one of a handful in the U.S. — is growing increasingly popular each year. For the class entering in fall 2018, there were a record-breaking 121 new Dual Degree students. The previous record was 89 in one year, said Ronald Laue, assistant dean and coordinator for the program.

252
current dual degree students
38
states represented
1,800
alumni in 45 years
74
schools represented

While earning a bachelor's degree is an accomplishment in itself, earning one in three years and a second one in an engineering field in two or three additional years is even more challenging. But in the McKelvey School of Engineering, more than 250 students are doing just that — and three-fourths of them choose to earn a one-year master's degree, as well, ultimately earning three degrees in six years.

“These students are risk takers and more willing to step outside of their comfort zone. They want to grab every bit of it for the short amount of time that they are here.”

Academically, they are also on par with Engineering students who began as freshmen.

Currently, McKelvey Engineering at WashU is affiliated with 100 liberal arts schools nationwide, but since the program's beginning in the early 1970s, students have come to the program from 175 different affiliated schools. More students have entered the program from Nebraska Wesleyan University and Grinnell College in Iowa than from any other schools.

Laue said the Dual Degree students assimilate more quickly into the WashU community because they already have at least three years of college experience.

"This group brings a wonderful perspective to our engineering community as a whole," he said. "At WashU, yes, we have a great location, we have great facilities and we have so many resources coupled with the outstanding academic reputation. But in the end, it's really the people who make for a great community, and the Dual Degree students add so much value to all of our daily experiences, and we appreciate them for that."



Taylor Tuleja

Taylor Tuleja

“I love that I spent three years getting a math degree, and now I get to do what I’ve been wanting to do since the beginning and use my math degree to have a deeper understanding of mechanical engineering.” — Taylor

Second year at WashU

BS, Mathematics, Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu
BS, Mechanical Engineering; MS, Aerospace Engineering, WashU

Hometown: Palos Verdes, California
Activities: President, WU Design-Build-Fly; WUTA; teaching assistant in fluid mechanics course; externship at Spartan Light Metal Products; summer internship at Brookhaven National Laboratory
Career plans: Get a doctorate


Cyrus Kirwa

Cyrus "KK" Kirwa

“The resources that are available to the students played a key role; in terms of research, internships and co-ops. Students are put in a position where they can achieve their goals and become successful.” — KK

Second year at WashU

BS, Chemistry, Drury University, Springfield, Missouri
BS, Chemical Engineering; MEng, Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, WashU

Hometown: Nakuru, Kenya
Activities: Track and Field, Drury University


Oluwakemi (Precious) Faniyi

Oluwakemi (Precious) Faniyi

“I love the fact that you get to experience college twice in two different ways. We get to experience the small liberal arts education but also a larger university. I also like that WashU offers so many research opportunities that the liberal arts schools don’t offer.” — Precious

First year at WashU

BS, Biology, minors in applied mathematics and sculpture, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Florida,
BS, Biomedical Engineering, minor in electrical engineering, WashU

Hometown: Rochester, Minnesota
Activities: Working in the Center for Cellular Imaging lab at the School of Medicine; president of the National Society of Professional Engineers at Jacksonville
Career plans: Get a doctorate and work in a medical research lab


John Fordice

John Fordice

“I’d make the same decision again. It has benefitted me in so many ways. It’s a value-trade, having the skills to get a job that I enjoy rather than being in a chemistry lab for the rest of my life. I would make the same value trade-off every time.” — John

Second year at WashU

BS, Chemistry, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington
BS, Systems Science & Engineering, WashU

Hometown: Tacoma, Washington
Activities: Internships at Tesla and Smartsheet
Career plans: Find a job in New York City after graduating in December 2018


Emily Gay

Emily Gay

“The Dual Degree program is a pretty small group of students, and we all support one another. Any second- or third-year is always willing to take time to give advice to a first-year no matter what is going on in his/her life. It is so nice to have a group of people who are in the same situation as you and want you to be successful.” — Emily

Second year at WashU

BS, Chemistry, Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee
BS, Chemical Engineering, WashU

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
Activities: Leadership Society of Women and Engineering; one summer internship at Tredegar Corp. and three summers at WestRock Corp. in Richmond, Virginia, in research and development; Varsity swimming at Sewanee
Career plans: Run plant engineer, Dow Chemical Co. in Plaquemine, Louisiana


Connor Nam

Connor Nam

“WashU offers a unique combination of attributes, including a top-notch education, exposure to top companies, a strong support system and built-in community through the Dual Degree Program. These qualities were my top priorities as I evaluated my goals both for my career and my continued educational experience.” — Connor

Second year at WashU

BA, Natural Science with minors in physics and computer science, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California
BS/MS, Electrical Engineering, Graduate Certificate in Data Mining and Machine Learning, WashU

Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona
Activities: Summer internship at SpaceX; two summer internships at NASA Glenn Research Center
Career plans: Work at SpaceX