The provost of Grace College in Winona Lake says the school's newly-launched mechanical engineering program will help with "large demand" across a number of industries. John Lillis says the three bachelor's degrees are designed to prepare graduates with "the most diversified set of applications" to enter the workforce in orthopedics and manufacturing-heavy Kosciusko County, northeast Indiana or beyond. Fred Wentorf, who spent a decade at Warsaw-based Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc. (NYSE: ZBH), most recently as principal engineer, will serve as department chair.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Lillis said industry connection is vital. "You can't have an engineering program -- I think -- without that kind of input," he said. "Mechanical engineers can go into manufacturing, and often do. I know in the biomedical field -- because we're here in Warsaw -- I've talked to some of the orthopedic types and said 'should we be focusing on biomedical, for example?' And they 'no, give us some well-trained mechanical engineers and we'll take care of the biomedical piece of it.'" Lillis adds graduates will also be set up well for opportunities in the aerospace industry, a sector that has a growing statewide presence, and automotive manufacturing, a sector where Indiana often ranks at or near the top nationally.

The Grace-run program will replace a long-time arrangement that included 40-60 students on the Winona Lake campus seeking mechanical engineering management degrees through a collaboration with Trine University. It will include a three-term co-op component allowing students to work in the field. "Mechanical engineering," Lillis says "has really a broad scope of application."

The first students will enter the program this fall and the application process is now underway. Wentorf is helping to develop an advisory board and is finalizing the new curriculum "to ensure that the education we provide is relevant and sought-after by employers," he said in a news release.