Academics: Majors and Programs

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Dual-Degree Doubles Student Opportunities

Years before she matriculated at Spelman College, Shavonne C. Cullers was a dual-degree kind of girl. In high school, she entered the girl- and minority-oriented Mathematics, Science and Engineering Academy to develop oil and gas sector professionals. 

Soon Cullers knew she wanted to attend Spelman and enter its dual-degree engineering program.  In the program, each student spends at least three academic years at the College, and two years at one of 12 participating engineering schools offering engineering majors that include aerospace, computer, electrical and nuclear engineering.

DDEP is more than academic however. Cullers, 22, spent a summer in France at a technology program that conducted research in nonlinear optics, and she traveled across Europe. Cullers says, “I think that exposure was immeasurable, because I experienced a variety of different cultures.”

In December 2011, Cullers will receive a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Spelman and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and has multiple post-graduation plans. These include doing corporate research and development, and perhaps earning an M.B.A., or actuarial science degree, before she is 30.

Turning Academic Theory Into Practice

Dual-degree alumnae turn academic theory into practice quickly.  Antonia Hawkins, 28, joined Southern Company the year after her 2009 graduation. Hawkins has a Spelman degree in science and a mechanical engineering degree from North Carolina A&T State University College of Engineering. Also, she has had  international work experience, spending a summer in Japan as an intern with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

An interest in a specific sector, construction, led her to the University of Alabama, Birmingham, where she received her master's degree in engineering and construction engineering management.

During her initial years at Southern, Hawkins did piping design for major generation plants and major environmental projects. The work involves the fluid and thermodynamic aspects of mechanical engineering. Currently, her responsibility is growing as she supplies support for major power generating plant projects in mechanical design and project management. 

Sharp as a Laser

Nzinga Tull, C’97, understands such laser-like thinking. At 35, she is chief systems engineer at Jackson and Tull. In 1974, her father founded the civil engineering firm that has become an award-winning aerospace, robotics and manufacturing services company. Clients include NASA, the U.S. Air Force, Raytheon, and The Johns Hopkins University.

A Spelman math major, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Georgia Tech, Tull coordinates engineering analysis, ground test and activities involving subsystem engineers and hardware developers, and supports the company’s new business.