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KU Meeting State's Need for More Engineers

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Professor JoAnn Browning, right, discusses a concrete project with students. The University of Kansas School of Engineering made significant gains in undergraduate enrollment this fall as part of an ongoing effort to meet Kansas’ workforce needs.

Fall enrollment reached a 29-year high at 1,911 undergraduate students. The figure represents a 6.6 percent increase (119 students) over last year.

The enrollment increase is part of the school’s long-term strategic effort to boost the number of students in Kansas who graduate with bachelor’s degrees in engineering. Engineering-intensive industries in Kansas and the Kansas City region have called for the state’s engineering programs to produce additional engineering graduates to meet the state’s workforce needs and help fuel the economy.

The point was echoed by the Kansas Legislature with the passage of the Engineering Initiative Act this spring designed to produce more engineering graduates in Kansas. Gov. Sam Brownback signed the act into law in May.

“Our staff has worked very hard to show high school and community college students the great career opportunities that await them as engineers and computer scientists,” said Stuart Bell, dean of engineering. “Moreover, our alumni stand as a testament to the opportunities they received here. Our alumni are successful and loyal. When those words appear together it means scholarship dollars are also there to ensure great students have affordable access to an education that opens doors and helps them change the world for the better.”

The school and its departments provided more than $2 million in scholarship dollars and financial awards to its students in addition to funds from the university. About one-third of students in the School of Engineering receive scholarships. The school also is home to the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows (SELF) Program , a four-year leadership and enrichment program that provides ambitious students in the school with additional leadership opportunities, access to top leaders in business and industry, and a generous financial package to help defray the cost of college.

“Efforts like the SELF Program have far-reaching effects and help set the KU School of Engineering apart from other engineering programs,” said Bell. “Prospective students see that engineering and computer science are opportunities for innovation and greater involvement with the world around them.”

Several majors saw significant enrollment gains this fall, including electrical engineering, petroleum engineering and engineering physics .

Student quality also remained exemplary. Thirteen freshmen with National Merit distinction enrolled in the school. Five students in the freshman class – four of whom are National Merit Scholars – earned Perfect Achievement marks with a 36 score on the ACT. Overall, the average ACT scores of freshmen entering the KU School of Engineering remained high with a composite score of 28.19, an ACT Math score of 29.6 and an ACT Verbal score of 27.8. Both the Composite and Math scores represent slight increases over last year’s averages.



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