Wake Forest has officially announced new undergraduate programs and approved courses centered on biomedical science and engineering that will be some of the first courses offered for undergraduate students in the Innovation Quarter downtown.
This announcement follows the plans announced last fall that Wake Forest will lease space in the renovated former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco company buildings in the Innovation Quarter. This space will be beside where the medical education programs of the Wake Forest School of Medicine will reside starting this summer.
The new undergraduate major in engineering will begin being offered in the fall of 2017. Both the biochemistry interdisciplinary major and concentration in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery are scheduled to be offered starting in January of 2017.
“This is an important innovation for Wake Forest and it greatly adds to options for students here in the most interesting way,” said President Nathan Hatch. “The kinds of programs are distinct in that students will still fill all the same liberal arts requirements as other students, but they will be able to get a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering or biochemistry and molecular biology.”
According to President Hatch, the newly approved courses and programs to be offered in the 115,000-square-foot Wake Forest Downtown Facility are intended to act as an intersection of many different areas of campus.
It is envisioned that undergraduate students in these programs will spend equal time studying liberal arts on the main campus and studying the new biomedical science and engineering classes in the classrooms and labs downtown.
“The courses will be partly taught by medical school professors, so it will be a combination of our undergraduate science faculty and the medical faculty — that’s an innovation,” Hatch said. “And then its location downtown in a building contiguous to the new medical school is also an innovation. So all of these factors, in addition to the dynamic place of the innovation quarter will add to the Wake Forest community.”
Chemistry professor Rebecca Alexander has been instrumental in the process of approving new undergraduate classes for the Innovation Quarter and said the programs were chosen for a variety of reasons.
“Our new programs in biomedical sciences and engineering were chosen to complement the school of medicine departments that are already housed in the Innovation Quarter, such as biochemistry, microbiology and immunology, physiology and pharmacology, and public health,” Alexander said. “We also look forward to being near not only the medical education component of Wake Forest School of Medicine — the first two years of medical school — but also programs from Winston-Salem State University and Forsyth Technical Community College. I’m excited for the opportunity that Wake Forest students will soon have to take classes and participate in research efforts in Wake Downtown.
Both Hatch and Alexander believe that the new programs will provide a unique alternative for students and hopefully attract more students interested in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field.
“We know that we lose STEM students because we don’t have any type of engineering at Wake Forest, so I think it will advance our capacity to attract students because it’s another tremendous alternative for students,” Hatch said.
Although these three new majors and concentration are the only completely approved programs, more programs are in consideration, according to President Hatch.
“These three tracks have been approved but there are others that are being considered,” Hatch said. “There’s one more that is more social science oriented into global health policy. We have a very large outstanding public health science department in the medical school and we know at Johns Hopkins and Brown, drawing upon several sources, Health Policy and Global Public Health are some of the most popular undergraduate majors. So that track is being considered and developed.”
An information session for interested students will be held on March 30th at 5 p.m. in the ZSR auditorium.