A Quick Look: Pre-Engineering 3:2 Option

Andrew Tolbert '14 (left) and Danfei Xu '14 head off to New York City in the fall to attend Columbia University as part of Dickinson's 3:2 pre-engineering option.

Andrew Tolbert '14 (left) and Danfei Xu '14 head off to New York City in the fall to attend Columbia University as part of Dickinson's 3:2 pre-engineering option.

After only three years within the limestone walls, Danfei Xu and Andrew Tolbert, both of the class of 2014, are leaving campus for good. On its face, that might not seem like great news. But Xu and Tolbert are the first two students in Dickinson's 3:2 pre-engineering option to transfer to Columbia University, and each will emerge two years from now with a bachelor of science degree from both Dickinson and Columbia.


It's a road less traveled, and it might not be one for the faint of heart.

"It is not an easy path to fulfill the liberal-arts requirements at Dickinson, nearly complete a science major, take extra courses in math and physics in just three years and then transition into an engineering program and fulfill those requirements in just two years," says Sarah St. Angelo, assistant professor of chemistry, an academic advisor for the chemistry/chemical engineering 3:2 option.

Citing his interest in sustainable engineering, Tolbert says he envisions himself working toward improving lives amid an ever-growing global population. "We live in a world where more people live in cities now," he says. "And the engineering and design of cleaner cities and waste management are going to be huge areas."

Xu, a computer-science major who foresees a career in robotics, took an interest in the field at an early age. "From childhood, I liked sci-fi, robots, RC cars—that kind of stuff," he says. "And after high school I started working on small robotics projects," work he has expanded upon at Dickinson.

Both Xu and Tolbert look forward to the concentration of specialized classes they'll find at Columbia. But the road less traveled often comes at a price, and Tolbert sums it up well: "I'm looking forward to meeting new people, but I'll miss my friends here, and I really like all of my courses, so it was a really hard choice to decide to leave."

Departure may cause a swirl of emotion, but as someone once said, all great changes are preceded by chaos.

Read more: Dickinson Partners With Columbia School of Engineering

Published May 1, 2013