Director named to lead ACU's first class of engineering students

Abilene Christian University has a director of engineering -- Dr. Kenneth Olree. He will lead ACU's initial class of engineering students in the fall and the university's new Department of Engineering and Physics.

The university made the announcement Tuesday afternoon through a news release.

Below is ACU's release:

This fall, Dr. Kenneth Olree will lead ACU's first class of engineering students for the new Department of Engineering and Physics.

"I am extremely excited to be directing the new engineering program at ACU," says Olree, the new director of engineering. "This is a unique time in history. Never before have the needs been as great, and the technology as available, to solve the problems that exist in the world today."

Olree's past experience includes stints as an associate professor of engineering at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.; a researcher for the University of Utah; a specialist and engineer in the Human Performance Laboratory at Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's Hospital in St. Louis, Mo.; and a program analyst for Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville, Va.

"It is a great honor to partner with my ACU colleagues and these new students as they develop their engineering skills. I'm confident many people will benefit from the imaginative solutions created by ACU graduates. ACU has a long tradition of Christian service, and I am happy to be able to continue in this service by guiding the new engineering program," says Olree.

Olree earned his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma Christian University, his M.S. from the University of Virginia, and his Ph.D. from the University of Utah. He has published work in the Journal of Neurosurgery, the Journal of Applied Biomechanics, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, and BMC Neuroscience, among others.

Olree's family includes his wife of 21 years, Linda (Thorson) Olree, and their four children, Sarah (14), Elizabeth (11), Joshua (9), and Anna (4). When he's not in the classroom, he enjoys coaching his children in soccer and baseball, reading, gardening, and tending to his beehive. He has also been involved with engineering service projects in northern Haiti for two years.

Dr. Rusty Towell, professor and chair of the Department Engineering and Physics, is pleased to have Olree join the department.

"Our department is now able to offer students the same Christ-centered quality education in engineering as in physics," Towell says. "Both types of students will receive real-world experience solving world-class problems in a mentoring environment. We are excited to have Dr. Olree serve as our first Director of Engineering. He brings a combination of academic and industry experience and is committed to Christian higher education."

"My philosophy of teaching and learning is centered about Christ," Olree says. "It emphasizes honesty, integrity, and hard work. It is demonstrated by showing respect and concern for others. When these concepts are practiced inside and outside of the classroom, Christian faith is not merely integrated into the lesson; it becomes deeply infused into the life of a student."

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