Where STEM Thrives Along With Faith
Benedictine College’s STEM courses are in the news for the college’s ability to deliver great science and faith, both at once.
This fall the college will dedicate the finest small-college stem building into America, the new, 100,000-square-foot Westerman Hall on its Atchison, Kansas, campus.
It’s all part of a new STEM emphasis that is getting noticed.
A blog post by Kelly Salomon of the Newman Guide this week focused on Kaelyn Adolph, an incoming Benedictine College freshman, quoting her saying, “Attending a Catholic nursing school gives the nurses confidence that comes with a complete education, which includes the moral stance on modern issues.”
Earlier this year, the National Catholic Register noted the college’s recent “big push in STEM studies — ‘Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics.’”
The article quoted Dr. Darrin Muggli, char of the college’s engineering department, saying students “don’t have to make a choice or a sacrifice between professional preparation and their Catholic identity.”
Reported the paper:
“In the past 10 years, the Atchison, Kansas, college has hired 15 new STEM faculty — more than in any other academic area. STEM majors receive the largest academic scholarships of any majors on campus. The college’s approximate annual investment for STEM fields in the yearly operating budget is far more than for any other department. And the $25-million recently completed science and engineering building project is the college’s largest capital project ever.”
That building project is the new science facility.
“The education was always there; the facilities now just reinforce that reality,” Muggli told the Register. “It’s a lot easier for people to believe great education is happening” in a building that is a “showpiece.”
Muggli said the approach is different at Benedictine College’s engineering department. “Instead of teaching engineering, I look at it … as ‘I’m teaching this child of God engineering skills.’ It’s a whole different way of interacting with the person in front of you.”
He said that doesn’t mean you can skimp on the quality of the teaching. “Being Catholic means you have to excel at your work; that’s what the faculty do,” said Muggli.
The paper reported that 95% of Benedictine College engineering students have a job waiting for them when they graduate.
“The students are getting a great engineering education as well as getting a great liberal arts education; all combines to success in the workplace as well as success as a person,” Muggli is quoted saying.
“I would not be the same Catholic I am now if I had not studied in a Catholic environment. I would have gone through some very intense struggles,” he told the paper. “I want to be a respectable scientist — with research and papers and teaching experience — but to also be a solid witness to the Catholic faith.”