New Bachelor of Science in Engineering Degree Designed for These Times

Combine a bit of mechanical engineering, a pinch of electrical engineering, a smidge of computer engineering, and a dash of industrial and manufacturing engineering, and you’ve got the foundation for the new Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) at Kettering University.

The University designed the program, rolled out in fall 2021, in response to industry needs for a more flexible workforce.

“Companies are looking for graduates with a little more broad expertise,” said Dr. Scott Grasman, Dean of the College of Engineering. “The things students are working on are cutting across many disciplines.”

In addition, he said the new degree helps students find the road that will take them to a specific career.

“This aligns more with the mindset of our students, where they say, ‘I want to work in X,’ so here’s the path to take,” Grasman said.

How the BSE program works

The BSE program starts with a broad foundation but allows students to hone in on their areas of interest in four concentrations: Manufacturing Systems, Engineering Management, Mechatronics Systems and Robotic Systems.

Students spend the first two years of the program building that foundation and the next 2.5 years diving into their concentrations, an experience Dr. Dave Foster, BSE Program Director, said is just as scrupulous as other University programs.

“Don’t expect this to feel any less rigorous than any other discipline,” he said.

Grasman agreed.

“The incoming pipeline of students has an area of interest, and companies are looking for graduates that are more well-rounded from an engineering technical perspective,” he said. “With the exposure to other disciplines in this program, we’re making that connection.”

For Greg Salisbury ‘94, companies need to make their current products better and give them a higher value at a lower cost, and he believes producing a workforce with this type of degree will help them do that.

Salisbury, who graduated from Kettering in 1994 with a Bachelor’s in Manufacturing Systems Engineering, is the Vice President of Electric Distribution Engineering at Consumers Energy. He completed his Co-op at General Motors. His career moved from manufacturing engineering to maintenance and operations to quality, working at General Motors, Fresh Solutions Farms and Stryker before landing at Consumers Energy.

Salisbury is also a member of the University’s Industry Advisory Board. The Industry Advisory Board is comprised of alumni professionals and industry leaders who provided feedback on skills graduates need for today’s workforce and the relevance and quality of curriculum and possible new programs. They also advise on partnerships to create capacity for teaching and research, scholarships, labs, etc.

“I think the BSE program fulfills a need. Taking nothing away from the fundamental need for mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering, without a doubt, industry needs those kinds of engineers to be designing products, manufacturing equipment and figuring out how to produce basic components of finished devices, machines and assemblies,” Salisbury said. “The place that I think the BSE graduate fits in is an equally important part of industry, which is people whose focus is on validating a process and then keeping that process in a validated state through ongoing monitoring, measuring analytics, problem-solving and continuous improvement.”

  • BSE appeals to new, returning students

  • John Huskin ’24 knows it’s important to see the big picture and to understand the overall process. He started at Kettering majoring in Mechanical Engineering but is now working to earn a BSE with a concentration in Engineering Management.
  • “From the work I was doing at my Co-op, I knew I didn’t just want to go into engineering. It didn’t seem like a good fit for me, and I wanted a more well-rounded education,” Huskin said. “I have some family friends who are in Engineering Management, and some of my co-workers are in Engineering Management, and I really enjoy working with them and the work that they do. Once this degree was available, I jumped right on it. I switched immediately.”
  • Huskin, who co-ops as a project engineer at Hutchinson, said he can see how his classwork could be applied to his work.
  • “I’ve worked on some interdisciplinary teams, and I was able to understand what their goals and needs are and tailor my product to their needs,” Huskin said.
  • This is something Salisbury said is a trait of a BSE student.
  • “It’s been my experience that engineers with a concentration in these programs in BSE, they think in processes, they don’t just think in outputs or inputs. They think in processes and how do inputs get transformed to become outputs,” he said. “I think that’s a unique mindset, and it’s a unique way of thinking, but it only comes from having an education around processes and systems and having hands-on experience in improving processes and systems, because I have found that it’s a much different task to take an existing process and improve it while keeping it in control than it is to start from zero and create a process."
  • For Derek Petrusha ’26, the BSE with a concentration in Robotics Systems solidified his decision to choose Kettering. He had heard about Kettering from a mentor while participating in FIRST Robotics at Milford High School.
  • “That was my whole goal with coming to Kettering. I liked the idea of the Co-op program and coming out of school with multiple years of working experience, to be head and shoulders above someone who, say, came out of MSU who got the same high-quality education, but I’ve been doing the real work for two years,” he said. “Not to mention this degree, it is more broadly applicable, and it does allow me to look at problems from more angles, which in the real world is really, really big.” 
  • As a FIRST Robotics alumnus, Petrusha was excited to study a concentration that would teach him about everything that goes into robotics and the fields he could pursue in robotics.
  • His Co-op is at Strattec Security, where he rotates through different departments: electrical, latches, power products, finance and purchasing.
  • “In the real world, you’re never working with a core-focused thing of just mechanical or electrical,” Petrusha said. “You work on things that interact with other things, and that’s what I really like about my degree—that I’m going to take classes that revolve around all of these things rather than just one core topic.”
  • Salisbury agrees.
  • “Products and processes of today and tomorrow are hardly ever going to be just electrical or just mechanical or just chemical. Almost everything now blurs the lines,” he said.
Student welding in lab

You work on things that interact with other things, and that’s what I really like about my degree.

Derek Petrusha, '26

Student working in IME Lab

BSE Concentrations

  • Manufacturing Systems
    • Courses in Industrial Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering
    • Careers in this field include quality assurance, design and facility engineering
  • Engineering Management
    • Courses include Industrial Engineering and Management 
    • Careers in this field include construction management, cost system analysis, senior lead analysis, process engineering and engineering research management
  • Robotics Systems
    • Courses focus on Computer Engineering and integrate Industrial, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering
    • Careers in this field include robotics engineering, design engineering, test engineering and control systems
  • Mechatronics Systems
    • Courses include Computer, Electrical, Industrial and Mechanical Engineering courses
    • Careers in this field include control systems design engineering, electronics design engineering and instrumentation

Teaching skills required in evolving industries

So far, Petrusha’s favorite class has been Interdisciplinary Design and Manufacturing because it includes two labs teaching valuable skills for the future.

“One where we’re learning how to use integrated computer machines and designs, and then the other is building a robot to play games, to do actual functions,” Petrusha said. “It’s two classes rolled into one, where it’s very much both sides of a working experience of learning how to use a machine to do a task versus then what do we do with those things we used on the machine. We build them into a design that does a task. It was really two-sided, but it also reflected and laced my experience, again, with a more real-world application there.”

At this point, he’s still deciding what he wants to do after graduation but can see himself staying at his Co-op.

“While I’ve been there, they’ve hired several Kettering Co-ops,” Petrusha said.

He echoed Salisbury’s analysis of the BSE.

“Not only is it even more applicable to having that broad-scope work experience, but it gives you a more broad-scope educational experience too,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve felt I’ve gained from this program so far is the ability to look at a problem from multiple angles, not just a purely mechanical angle but also an electrical angle and a computer angle. Having that ability to look at something from multiple angles in the real world is hugely valuable.”

The skills Phillip Goldman ’25 is learning in the classroom become almost immediately applicable to his Co-op jobs and a program like the BSE is where industry is heading, he said.

“For instance, as an engineer, you’re going to learn some sort of programming because it’s everywhere now,” Goldman said. “Especially in automotive, everything is getting integrated with electricity, so if you just have the mechanical aspect, you’re going to miss out on some of the new technology that’s being manufactured.”

At his Co-op, Tenneco, Goldman works with automotive brakes and processes data from tests on various vehicles and machines.

Originally, the Hartford, Connecticut, native thought he would study Mechanical Engineering to work on Powertrain engines. However, when the industry shifted its focus to electric vehicles, so did Goldman. He’s now studying to earn a BSE with a concentration in Mechatronics Systems.

Like Goldman, Aiden Grbic ’23 started his Kettering career with a different plan. He majored in Mechanical Engineering but discovered a better fit in the BSE program with a concentration in Manufacturing Systems.

Grbic spent his Co-op at McNaughton-McKay Electric Company, providing technical support to customers troubleshooting issues over the phone and in person. He hopes to be a plant manager at General Motors one day, so knowing overall processes will be necessary.

Initially, Grbic said he was worried he wouldn’t have enough knowledge to speak with co-workers in other disciplines as he would have if he had stuck to a more targeted major, but that’s not the case.

Looking back on his Co-op experience in various plants, Grbic said he can see this program prepares students for the future because there’s always a person that has to manage all employees with different backgrounds.

“I was part of orientation this year, and I definitely recommended it to any freshman because you really can’t beat the major,” he said. “You get the best of all the worlds with all the classes. Especially with Manufacturing Systems, I felt like I had the best combination of mechanical courses and IE courses because it just gave me all of the classes that are fun and gave me the greatest foundation.”

Advice From an Alumna

As a lead systems engineer for the Department of DefemnsMaj. Gerve Tillmane, Maj. Gervé Tillman ’10, ’13 appreciates the value of a degree like the Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE).

“It’s important to understand how all parts of a project work together to deliver a capability,” she said. “For example, a satellite must communicate with ground stations, and operators have to interpret data from these systems to turn into useful information for key decision-makers. A degree such as the Bachelor of Science in Engineering could be beneficial in creating the breadth of knowledge across multiple disciplines needed to ensure the systems work together.”

Tillman, who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and her Master’s degree in Engineering Management, is the Commander of the Department of the Air Force Acquisition Instructor Course (AQIC).

She recognized it may be better for students to get a targeted engineering degree for some fields, such as biomedical or aerospace. Still, she said the BSE will make Kettering students more marketable to industry “by creating multidisciplinary leaders who are able to communicate in any environment.”

“Effective communication is the cornerstone of any great leader, especially when it comes to relaying technical information to your team,” Tillman said. “ Whatever engineering path you decide to take, understanding the fundamentals will go a long way in creating a solid foundation to build upon throughout your career.”