Simpson University Announces Start of Engineering, Technology, Digital Media

REDDING, Calif.—Simpson University is pleased to announce the awarding of $1 million in grants toward the launch of new programs in engineering, digital media, and technology.

The Hugh & Hazel Darling Foundation and The Fletcher Jones Foundation, both of which have supported Simpson University programs in the past, have agreed to provide up to $500,000 each over the next three years toward facilities, lab equipment, faculty and marketing of the new programs, which includes engineering, computer information systems (CIS), and digital media.

“We have identified a tremendous demand for these educational programs, and are responding to both a local and global need for a technically qualified and morally centered workforce,” Simpson University President Norman Hall said. “We are immensely grateful to the forward-thinking Hugh & Hazel Darling and Fletcher Jones foundations for their support and commitment to our higher education goals.”

The grant funds will help establish the first private university technology and engineering program in upstate California, as well as increase access to high-demand technology and engineering majors for students in the region, especially those who are first-generation or economically disadvantaged.

A 2017 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the country’s largest job growth to be in the computer and engineering fields by 2024. Yet the North State lacks a skilled workforce in these fields, which has impeded the growth of local businesses and impacted the overall economy, notes Scott Putnam, founder and CEO of Apex Technology Management, Redding’s largest technology service provider.

“Our region is full of smart and creative people, and numerous technology-related businesses have been launched locally, but the lack of a developed workforce has caused many to leave the area or limit their growth,” he said. “I firmly believe that adding additional programs, particularly the development of an engineering program, at Simpson University would be a game-changer for our region.”

Last fall the university retained Dr. Hyung Choi, an internationally known quantum physicist who helped launch a technology and engineering program at Greenville University in Illinois, to help lay the groundwork for an engineering program. This spring, the university is consulting with Dr. Larry Wear in continued development of the program.

Dr. Wear has served at Chico State University as the chair of the electrical and computer engineering program. He is a graduate of the University of Washington, with degrees in electrical engineering, and Santa Clara University, where he earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering. He helped launch a computer engineering and systems program at the University of Washington at Tacoma, and has considerable corporate and consulting experience, including Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Tandem Computers (including Compaq Computers), and Lockheed Missiles & Space Operations.

“For the first time we are offering the opportunity to come to Simpson University and learn engineering in a Christian environment,” said Dr. Brian Hooker, chair of the Sciences and Mathematics Department. “We are very excited about this program.”

shutterstock_514412104The program, which is undergoing accreditation review, will offer curriculum rich in electrical, computer, systems, mechanical, mechatronic, civil, and general engineering components.

“Simpson University’s engineering program will be undergirded with emphases in chemistry, mathematics, mechanics and physics,” Dr. Hooker said. “Students will have internships with regional businesses to get real-world, hands-on engineering experience while also being able to live on campus in a Christian community.”

photo-of-a-man-holding-video-camera-2608519Simpson University’s new digital media program, offered this fall as an emphasis in the communication major, will offer students the chance to gain skills in graphic design, photography, videography, animation, and more. Students also will have opportunities to participate in a wide variety of internship programs to further develop those skills in a real-world environment.

The new computer information systems program, administered by the Business Department, will provide professional competencies in managing information, computers, databases, systems analysis, and business principles related to computer information systems. Training in CIS can lead to careers as a database administrator, IT project manager, network administrator, information systems manager, and systems analyst, among others.

A technology and engineering working and advisory group, composed of regional industry leaders, has also been formed to provide guidance on curriculum design that will meet workforce demand, recruitment, and job placement.

Simpson University is one of the most affordable private universities on the West Coast, offering excellent academics, experiential learning, and world-class co-curricular opportunities in a Christ-infused community in beautiful Northern California. The university offers vigorous scholarships for students in a wide variety of areas.


Simpson University, a Christian university founded in 1921, moved to Redding 30 years ago and will celebrate its centennial in 2021. In addition to offering 25 majors in its traditional undergraduate program, the university has graduated more than 4,000 North State adults from its ASPIRE degree-completion program, and nearly 3,000 from its School of Education. It has a No. 7-ranked School of Nursing, a seminary, and master’s programs in counseling psychology and organizational leadership. Simpson University is listed in U.S. News and World Report’s Top 100 Regional Universities West and recognized nationally by Colleges of Distinction. The university is launching new programs in digital media, computer information systems, and engineering, and recently added athletics programs in track and field, swimming and diving, women’s wrestling, and men’s volleyball, as well as a bass fishing team. The university is also working to better serve transfer students from community colleges through its commitment to Associate Degree for Transfer agreements. Learn more about Simpson University at Follow university news at