Feb. 12, 2014 – The College of Engineering at the University of Utah doubled the number of degrees awarded per year since 1999, fueling Utah’s growing high-tech economy by providing greater numbers of engineering and computer science graduates.
In 2013, the college awarded 777 degrees – 483 bachelor’s, 219 master’s and 75 doctoral degrees – more than twice the 368 engineering and computer science degrees issued in 1999.
The increase stems from former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt’s 2000 Engineering Initiative – a challenge to the state’s higher education system to double its number of engineering graduates – and from subsequent support from industry, the Utah Legislature and Leavitt’s successors as governor.
“Our graduates are the lifeblood of technology companies,” says Richard B. Brown, dean of the College of Engineering. “Every software, biomedical, computer, semiconductor, aerospace and manufacturing company that moves to Utah evaluates the availability of engineering talent, and comes, in part, because of the college’s well-educated, innovative and hard-working graduates.”
Brown notes that in the past eight years, the college’s faculty and students have founded 50 startup companies based upon university research.
Through fundamental engineering research, the college empowers students and faculty to address engineering challenges and improve the quality of life. Despite strong economic headwinds in recent years, the college expanded its tenured and tenure-track faculty from 101 in 1999 to 156 last year.
And the college increased engineering research expenditures from $25 million in fiscal year 2002 to $81.5 million in fiscal 2012.
“As national Engineers Week (Feb. 16-22) approaches, we are pleased that our College of Engineering is a model of growth and innovation,” says University of Utah President David W. Pershing, a distinguished professor of chemical engineering. “There is no better place for students and faculty to do great research and then carry it all the way to commercialization.”
Engineers in the college’s seven departments and four specialty programs study wide-ranging subjects, from developing brain-computer interfaces and artificial organs to help paralyzed and sick people regain function, to building autonomous robots and discovering ways to optimize oil and gas recovery.
The college’s broadening research footprint is evidenced by significant federal funding to establish large, highly competitive, multi-investigator centers such as a National Science Foundation-funded center to develop new materials for faster computers and communications and better solar cells and microscopes. Another such center was funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration to conduct computer simulations aimed at developing low-cost, low-emissions coal-power plants.
The American Society for Engineering Education ranks the University of Utah College of Engineering 34th of 196 schools in the number of Ph.D. degrees awarded, 30th in research productivity out of 206 institutions, and 39th among 348 schools in undergraduate enrollment.
To develop the next generation of Utah engineers, the college has created an academic outreach program that introduces engineering to K-12 students. Upcoming events include: Meet an Inventor Night (Feb. 27), Elementary Engineering Week (March 24–28) and support for the FIRST Robotics Competition (March 13–15). These bolster Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert’s push to encourage Utah students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
About the University of Utah’s College of Engineering
The College of Engineering is committed to outstanding teaching and research that creates an undergraduate program in which students apply fundamental science to real-world problems. The college’s departments are bioengineering, chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, electrical and computer engineering, materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science. Specialty programs include entertainment arts and engineering, nuclear engineering and petroleum engineering. Please visit www.coe.utah.edu to learn more.