As I was doing my college visits as a senior in high school, I constantly found myself asking engineering students if they were able to graduate in four years or if five was more realistic. Hope was the only school that was consistently stating that as an engineering student I would graduate in four years. To be honest I was skeptical about Hope. Why would every other college make students stay for five years? Was Hope missing something critical in their program? 

Now as a Junior Mechanical Engineering major I can happily say that I will graduate in four years and have two internships under my belt. Additionally, I have no gaps in the curriculum and I will be ABET-accredited. And here is how I did it…

Freshman year

Fall (16 Credits)

  • Calculus 1 with Review (4 credits): Coming from a Common Core class I found myself needing the review portion with Calc 1 material in order to set a sturdy foundation for future math classes to come.
  • General Chemistry with Lab (4 credits): This is a required mechanical engineering class and it made sense to take it as a freshman.
  • First-Year Seminar (2 credits): A required class for all freshman
  • Health Dynamics (2 credits): Required as a General Education class which focuses on wellness and exercise
  • Introduction to Engineering and Lab (4 credits): The engineering introduction class for all freshmen. This class explores all the disciplines of engineering to help students start to decide which emphasis they prefer! 

Spring (17 credits)

  • Calculus 1 with Review (4 credits): Due to the review portion of this class it was two semesters. Most students would take Calculus 2 in the spring of their freshman year.
  • Expository Writing (4 credits): This is a gen ed requirement for all students
  • Religion 100 (2 credits): All students are required to take one half-semester religion gen ed and this is when it fit into my schedule

All engineering students take 4 half-semester classes to further explore the various disciplines

  • Circuits 1 with Lab (2 credits): Analyzed basic circuits with math and hands-on lab 
  • Introduction to Materials (2 credits): Explored material properties at the base level
  • Introduction to CAD (1 credit): Taught students SolidWorks design
  • Conservation Principles (2 credits): Chemical engineering class where basic processes are explored
In CAD we learned how to Datum dimension which is the professional blueprint language. This was the “blueprint” of columns between two buildings on campus.

Summer Freshman Year

May Term (4 credits)

Since my calculus one class took two semesters I was now behind on the math track for engineering. I decided to take calculus two as a May term. A May term is 4 intense weeks of just one class!

After my May Term was completed I had a full-time position working on a factory line at Herman Miller in Zeeland. This was not an internship but a great resume builder where I gained real-world manufacturing experience.

Sophomore Year

Fall (17 credits)

  • Social Science – Anthropology (4 credits): All students have to take two social science classes as part of their gen eds. I decided to take an anthropology class which was very interesting!
  • Cultural Heritage 1 (4 credits): Another gen ed requirement. This class explored the history and philosophy of ancient Greek, Roman and Biblical stories. 
  • Multivariable Calculus 1 (4 credits): This class is the third in the calculus chain for engineering students.
  • Statics (3 credits): This is the first in a string of three classes for mechanical students. Statics looks at objects when they are at rest.
  • Circuits 2 with Lab (2 credits): The other half of circuits that all engineering students take. This class was again only half of a semester.

Spring (15 credits)

  • Spanish 1 (4 credits): Two semesters of language are required for all students at Hope however there are a variety of languages available. I decided to take Spanish as it is applicable in the manufacturing environment. 
  • Engineering Computing (3 credits): This class teaches students how to code in two different languages: Matlab and C. 
  • Mechanics of Materials with Lab (4 credits): This is the class after statics. Taking the knowledge taught in statics but now it is applied to static systems with material properties. This has been my favorite lab that I have ever had at Hope. In the lab every week you create a different material and test it to failure – it was awesome!
  • Multivariable Calculus 2 (4 credits): My favorite math class of the calculus path. This is the last of 4 calculus classes that engineers are required to take.
In Materials Lab this week we made elastomers and tested them to failure!

Sophomore Summer

I took a Lean Six Sigma online summer class through Purdue. This is not required but rather helpful for the manufacturing path. 

As I took the summer class I was given the opportunity to do research with an engineering faculty member. Summer research is a full time paid internship for students. I worked in the civil lab developing a code that modeled how earthquakes affect skyscrapers. Research looks amazing on a resume and is a great way to meet other students, and you get to stay on campus all summer!!

Junior Year

Fall (17 credits)

  • Introduction to Guitar (2 credits): This class was again required as a Music gen ed. I loved learning how to play the guitar. The class style is so different compared to engineering so it provided a nice diverse class schedule.
  • Spanish 2 (4 credits): I needed to reach a 200 level class of a language to fulfill the gen ed requirement so I took this class to do so.
  • Dynamic Systems and Lab (4 credits): This is a core requirement for all engineering students. It explores modeling processes in terms of algebraic equations.
  • Structural Analysis (3 credits): As engineering students reach Junior and Senior year they must take 4 discipline-specific classes. This was the first of my four Mechanical classes.
  • Physics 1 and Lab (4 credits): All engineering students must take two semesters of physics with a lab. This was class number one.

Spring (13 credits) **Current**

  • Physics 2 and Lab (4 credits): The second in the required string of physics classes for engineers.
  • Mathematical Physics (2 credits): this class is required for all engineers and is one of the hardest that we take…
  • Mechanical Dynamics (3 credits): This is the third class in the statics string. Now systems are moving as they are analyzed.
  • Religion 200 (4 credits): All students are required to take a 200 level religion class. However, the topics vary – this specific class focuses on understanding biblical stories from various perspectives.

Junior Summer

I am currently writing this in January of my junior year. I have two internship offers on the table. The first at Herman Miller as an engineering intern. This position was offered to me because of my prior work experience at Herman Miller. The second is at SteelCase where I would be apart of their Lean/Quality Engineering Team. 

My Senior Year Will Look Like:

Fall (16 credits)

  • Senior Design (3 credits): All engineering students take two semesters of design. In this class, they are put in small groups of 3-5 students and given a real client with a real problem. Throughout the two semesters, students work with Hope faculty and their client to propose a solution while learning about engineering ethics.
  • Thermodynamics (2 credits): All engineering students take this, no matter their discipline. It explores various processes in various environments.
  • Cultural Heritage 2 (4 credits): Hope students must take two cultural heritage classes – this will be my second.
  • Vibrations (3 credits): This will be my second of four discipline-specific classes.
  • Geology and Environmental Science 1 (2 credits): As a mechanical engineer I am required to take one geology class. This one is half of a semester and very hands-on.
  • Social Science 2 (2 credits): Another social science class to fulfill my requirement. Another half-semester class.

Spring (17 credits)

  • Senior Design (3 credits): The second required semester of design.
  • Controls (3 credits): The third of my mechanical classes. This class explores control systems and modern modeling software.
  • Fine Arts 1 (4 credits): I have to take an art class which fits nicely in my schedule here!
  • Senior Seminar (4 credits): At a lot of other schools this is called a Capstone class and is not engineering specifically.
  • Fluids (3 credits): The fourth of my mechanical classes.

While I did have to take one summer class it could have been avoided by taking the regular calculus one class. Even as an engineer I can be out in four years. At the beginning of the four years, we take more than 16 credits, which seems like a lot but it is completely do-able especially with half semester classes. Hope sets students up for success and pushes them towards real-world work in just four years.

Published by Andie Alsgaard

Class of 2021 Major: Mechanical Engineering Hometown: Holland, MI

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