Jeremy Schueler and Kerry Poppa will become the first two students to be
awarded bachelor of science degrees in interdisciplinary engineering from the
University of Missouri-Rolla.
Schueler and Poppa will receive their degrees during commencement at 11 a.m.
Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building.
UMR’s interdisciplinary engineering (IDE) program started during the fall
2005 semester as a way to attract students interested in non-traditional
engineering. The program allows students to create their own seven-to-nine
course elective program based on two engineering fields or one engineering
field and one science field.
“The program is intended to appeal to folks who have an interest in science
and engineering, but are not attracted to one of the regular disciplines,"
says Dr. Robert Stone, associate professor of IDE and the director of the UMR
Student Design and Experiential Learning Center. “It gives students a lot of
flexibility in charting their own course."
The possible courses of study are virtually limitless, and students
currently in the IDE program are focusing on areas as diverse as roller-coaster
design, forensics engineering and biomedical engineering.
“The fun thing for us as faculty is to see the ideas students bring in that
we haven’t thought of," Stone says. “That will keep it fresh and exciting
as a program."
Common to all IDE majors is an emphasis on design and systems-modeling
“When these students graduate, they are going to be competent
designers," Stone says. “They are capable of designing products that are
specific to their area of interest."
It’s this hands-on approach combined with the program’s flexibility that
attracted Schueler and Poppa to IDE. Both will graduate having completed a
course of study in product design.
“Almost every class was a design project," says Schueler, who hails from
Columbia, Ill. “Every class was hands-on and more creative than just crunching
Schueler adds, “I think the flexibility and the capability to design your
own program was what I liked the most."
Poppa said it is exciting to be one of the first two UMR graduates with a
degree in interdisciplinary engineering.
“I’ve really enjoyed the program," Poppa, of Maryville, Mo., says. “It’s
nice to be at the beginning of something I think will be good for the
After graduation, Schueler will take a job working as an engineer with
Techtronic Industries, a company that manufactures vacuum cleaners. Poppa is
weighing his options to either accept a job offer or continue his studies as a
graduate student at UMR.