Studying smart: Distance education program, smartphone help Kansas City civil engineer earn master's degree
MANHATTAN -- If Trevor Acorn is caught staring intently at his iPhone screen, there's a good chance he's not checking in at a local eatery or killing time by playing a game. Mostly likely, he's using a break in his day to catch up on a little schoolwork.
Acorn is graduating this spring with a master's degree in civil engineering through Kansas State University's distance education program. As a father of three with a full professional life as a structural engineer in Kansas City, Mo., Acorn seizes any opportunity to watch a lecture or complete his homework -- and his K-State online courses, by design, simplify that process.
"I'm able to watch lectures on my iPhone while riding the bus to work, getting the oil changed in my car and at night while the kids are sleeping," he said. "With three kids at home, going to class three nights a week would not be feasible."
A K-State alumnus recommended Kansas State University to Acorn, who liked the engineering program's reputation and the way the university's Division of Continuing Education made it convenient for distance students to get their degree while meeting family and professional obligations.
Acorn said that a large factor in his degree completion has been the dedication of the university's faculty, particularly Hayder Rasheed, associate professor of civil engineering. Rasheed taught Acorn's linear and nonlinear structural analysis courses.
"I used the knowledge from the nonlinear course to solve a complicated cable force problem at work," Acorn said. "His courses were difficult, but I learned a great deal and am a better engineer as a result. I am better equipped to handle the day-to-day problems in my profession."
Acorn said K-State showed him that a distance program doesn't have to be inferior to on-campus instruction.
"You are watching the same lectures and doing the same projects as everyone else," he said. “Regular emails, discussion board posts and phone calls help foster valuable relationships with professors and peers."
Acorn hopes to use his master's degree to further his engineering career.
Learn more about K-State's online master's degree programs at http://www.dce.k-state.edu/engineering.