3-2 Students Graduate Again

Before starting college, “I knew I was interested in engineering, but was also interested in going to a Christian school,” says Cole Umemura ’14. He found the best of both worlds in Gordon’s 3-2 engineering program, in which students earn a physics degree in three years at Gordon, then earn an engineering degree through two years at another institution.

Cole and three of his Gordon classmates—Christopher Dorn, Nick von Hoffmann and Timothy Odonga—continued the second part of their 3-2 program at the University of Southern California, one of several accredited engineering programs all over the country that Gordon students have attended.

Since graduating from USC in May, Nick’s mechanical engineering training is being put to use at a PepsiCo bottling plant, where he’s working as an intern to increase production efficiency. For Cole, an internship at Northrop Grumman Corporation turned into a full-time job, where he’s contributing to the development of a plane navigation system.

Nick says the rigor of the 3-2 program at Gordon facilitates a strong community. “Even freshman year, we bonded really quickly,” he says. “Our first week of school, we went to Chester’s to do homework, and that was the start of quite a few nights of doing that together.”

“Everyone would be in the same lab working on the same homework, and so it’s very collaborative,” Cole adds. “We’d have physics dinners every month. One of the professors would cook a meal, and we’d eat in the lab together.”

Both graduates reference Dr. David Lee, physics professor and department chair, as a mentor and as the person who drew them to the 3-2 program. Nick also enjoyed the diversity of a liberal arts structure and the wide range of courses he could take. “It was cool to be taking The Great Conversation seminar and The Examined Life” alongside physics courses.

Moving from the east to west coast, from a small community to large university, was a big transition. The larger class sizes at USC, Nick says, required him to be more intentional about forming friendships and getting to know professors. But he found a great community in a Christian fraternity and discovered plenty of ways to get plugged in.

Chris says that at Gordon, opportunities for social events and spiritual formation were easy to find, but at USC, connecting required more effort. Joining a student ministry and a local church helped him find community.

As advice for students considering the 3-2 major, Nick recommends taking a summer class to lighten the school year course load, but also says that campus involvement is key. “You really rely on each other to carry each other through the program. After college, they’ll be the best friends of your life.”

By Morgan Clayton ’19, history