Mission Statement and History

Mission Statement

The Engineering & Design department at Western Washington University serves current students, industry, the University, and the citizens of Washington State by developing industry-ready graduates through a combination of creative problem-solving, analytical skills development, and experiential learning. The educational experience that we provide emphasizes critical thinking and an understanding of the impact of design, engineering, and manufacturing solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context. We value and foster teamwork, communication, and a commitment to equity, justice, and the respect for the rights and dignity of others.

History of the Engineering and Design Department

Western was founded in Whatcom county in 1893 as the New Whatcom Normal School. When it was founded, Western was dedicated to educating teachers in Washington state. Over the years, however, Western has grown to accommodate education in a variety of subjects, including Engineering and Design.

The College of Science and Engineering, where the Engineering and Design Department is housed, was founded in 2003 and was then known as the College of Science and Technology. The Engineering and Design department originally started as the Industrial Arts department, and the now four programs that exist in our department were created from concentrations created by individuals in our department.

a side-view of the Engineering and Design building exterior

Eventually there was a push to move from Industrial Arts to Engineering Technology in the 80’s and we even moved from the basement of Bond Hall into our own building! Though the programs had small graduating classes, they steadily grew as demand increased in Washington state for qualified Engineers and Designers. In the early 2000’s the programs had grown so rapidly that we had to create a maximum capacity for how many students we could accommodate and still give excellent access to equipment and quality education.

Our engineering programs were officially accredited in October of 2015, and the Industrial Design program was been accredited since 2001. Accreditations piqued student interest, and the professional, rigorous, and excellent programs we offer today were born.

As the Engineering and Design department moves into the future, we plan to expand our reach in ways we never have before. Our programs will continue to grow based on steady demand in Washington state. We are also dedicated to removing barriers for prospective students who want to study engineering or design at Western. In 2019 we added the Makerspace for pre majors to get hands-on mentorship, work on projects, and build community in our department. We also created and hired a First-Year Program Director position, a person who is dedicated to helping first-year students advance in our programs.

The future in Engineering and Design at Western is as rich as our past. With every step forward we remember to look back and examine our progress so we can continue to provide excellence in education.