University News

Obregon Named Interim Director of the Newly-Created School of Engineering & Technology

June 30, 2021

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- Rafael Obregon, interim chair of Western Illinois University's former Department of Engineering Technology, has been named interim director of the newly-created School of Engineering and Technology. He replaces William Pratt, who retired in May as the director of the former WIU School of Engineering.

Obregon joined the WIU Engineering Technology faculty as an assistant professor in 1996. He was promoted to professor in 2019 and has served as the interim chair since 2018. Prior to joining WIU, Obregon was the chair of the Technological Development and Continuing Education Center at ITESM (Monterrey Tec) Campus Querétaro in Querétaro, México. He also served in numerous other faculty positions at ITESM Querétaro since 1985. Obregon served as a visiting professor at WIU from 1991-1993 through an exchange program between ITESM-CQ and WIU.

During his tenure at WIU, Obregon brought 3-D printing technology to his students in the Department of Engineering Technology. He is the Engineering and Technology division chair for the Illinois State Academy of Science (ISAS) since 2014; he offered Project Lead the Way courses through the Western Area Career System and collaborated with a local industry and the Department of Defense to design a special engine for unmanned aerial vehicles. He has been hosting summer technology camps at WIU for area youth and with his students he has been involved in several product development or community improvement projects.

The newly formed School of Engineering and Technology will offer six undergraduate and two graduate degrees. The former Department of Engineering Technology was founded in 1903 as the Program of Manual Training and became a department with a four-year program in 1918. It was renamed the Department of Industrial Arts in 1924, and 45 years later, the unit evolved into the Department of Industrial Education and Technology. In 1998, the department adopted its current focus as the Department of Engineering Technology joining the College of Business and Technology in the 1990s. The Engineering Technology and Construction and Facilities Management majors have been accredited by ATMAE, the Association of Technology Management and Applied Engineering, from 2011 to 2019. Achieving re-accreditation through ATMAE or attaining it through ABET, American Board of Engineering and Technology -to consolidate all accreditation of the new School- are in progress.

"Engineers dream; technologists implement. When ideas evolve and are deemed feasible, their implementation translates into reality; that's what engineering and engineering technology are about: transforming concepts into completion; making dreams come true" said Obregon.

WIU's School of Engineering was created in 2009 and the Quad City Manufacturing Lab (QCML), which is currently housed at the Rock Island Arsenal which was created that same year. In 2010, the School of Engineering received ABET accreditation for the general engineering program, while accreditation for the mechanical engineering program was achieved in 2016. Civil and electrical engineering programs were added in 2019 and are scheduled to be considered for accreditation in Fall 2021.

"Engineering and Engineering Technology represent disciplines that utilize technology to effect innovation and efficiencies into the applied creation of value-added products and related processes," said CBT Dean Craig Conrad. "As applied professional fields, the new School of Engineering and Technology will represent a spectrum of technology application that serves as a direct connection to the same post-graduation employment opportunities for students at multiple touch points within those industry partners across both campus locations."

Classes will be offered on both the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses in an in-person format for undergraduate degrees, as well as distance and/or online options for graduate degrees.

Obregon conducted his graduate work at the University of Iowa, obtained his master's degree from WIU and his bachelor's degree from ITESM Campus Querétaro.

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