Northwestern College approved to launch engineering program this fall

Dr. Young-Ji Byon, founding director of the engineering program, working with a studentNorthwestern College has received approval from the Higher Learning Commission to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering beginning in the fall of 2024. College officials learned that news earlier this month following a site visit in January.

“We are grateful to God for this next step in what has been a nearly two-year journey toward adding engineering to our standout science and technology programs,” says Dr. D. Nathan Phinney, vice president for academic affairs. “The site visit team commended Northwestern for careful, systematic and comprehensive planning; the excellent credentials and enthusiasm of our founding program director, Dr. Young-Ji Byon; strong support for the engineering program from all constituencies; and our track record of successfully launching new programs.”  

Northwestern’s program will offer concentrations in civil, computer, electrical and mechanical engineering. The program has been designed to achieve ABET accreditation, for which it will be eligible upon graduation of the first cohort in 2028. Northwestern’s new program will offer numerous hands-on learning experiences, including 3D printing, wooden bridge building, machining, electric circuits, programming, geospatial analysis and traffic simulation. Newly developing concepts like AI have been built into the curriculum.

Byon began his work at Northwestern last July, casting the program’s vision, structuring the curriculum, planning educational spaces, and leading the accreditation process. He was previously the associate chair of the department of civil infrastructure and environmental engineering at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, a top-100 engineering university. Byon earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and master’s and doctoral degrees in civil engineering at the University of Toronto. With a research focus of intelligent transportation systems—including connected and autonomous vehicles and deep learning-based traffic control—Byon has managed grants totaling $2.8 million and published more than 50 articles in internationally recognized journals.

 “Our vision is to be a Christ-centered engineering program that equips students with an excellent engineering foundation, creative and innovative minds, and hands-on experience with a missionary mindset so they will become ‘light and salt’ for Christ in the field of engineering,” says Byon.

Work will begin June 1 on Northwestern’s new engineering lab, the former NAPA Auto Parts store just west of the DeWitt Family Science Center.

Work will begin June 1 on renovations to Northwestern’s new engineering lab, the former NAPA Auto Parts store just west of the DeWitt Family Science Center. The renovation, designed by CMBA Architects, is expected to be completed in December. Schelling Construction is the general contractor.

The new facility will include three labs: mechanical + civil, electrical + computer, and project space. The building will house 3D printers, resin/metal rapid prototyping, a mechatronics trainer with a robotic arm, a wind turbine/tunnel, and materials testing equipment.

Ten incoming freshmen have already declared an engineering major.

For more information about Northwestern’s new engineering program, visit

Study engineering at Northwestern

Set to launch in fall 2024, Northwestern's Christ-centered engineering program will equip students with a strong foundation in engineering while fostering student innovation and creativity. Engineering students will engage in numerous hands-on learning experiences both in labs on campus and in partnership with local and regional industries. The program's founding director, Dr. Young-Ji Byon, is a leading engineering educator with extensive credentials in teaching and research, including launching ABET-accredited civil engineering programs at Khalifa University in the United Arab Emirates.