The University of Texas at Tyler is expanding to Houston.
Through the program, students will be able to earn an associate’s degree from the community college and complete a UT Tyler bachelor’s degree in electrical or mechanical engineering.
“We’re excited about the partnership,” UT Tyler President Dr. Rod Mabry said in a UT Tyler news release. “It’s all about the students and giving them the opportunity to attend two excellent institutions to fulfill their goals.”
The program came about in part because of the work of Dr. James Nelson, dean of UT Tyler’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.
As chairman of the state’s Tuning Council for Engineering, Nelson has been part of a process aimed at “harmonizing” higher education programs and degrees, according to the
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Through that work, he noticed that Houston-area community college students didn’t have many opportunities to transfer to higher education institutions for engineering programs.
So, the university decided to partner with the community college and lease space on its Alief Campus.
UT Tyler is investing $1.3 million into building laboratory facilities there and will hire faculty to be based there.
Nelson said external funding sources could offset some of these costs.
“This is not a separate engineering program,” he said, describing it as an extension of the main campus program.
Students can enter the Houston-based engineering program from other community colleges in addition to Houston Community College, Nelson said.
With the start of this center, the university expects to add 30 students in its first year and ultimately as many as 300.
As a comparison, UT Tyler had 243 electrical and mechanical engineering majors registered in fall 2011, according to data available on the university website.
One thing UT Tyler officials are touting is the price. Through the community college-university combination, students can earn a four-year degree for about $21,000, half the price of some traditional four-year public schools.
Nelson said UT Tyler sees this as an investment in the future and expects the program to pay for itself in the long-term because of state funding and student tuition.
Houston Community College Chancellor Dr. Mary Spangler said the school appreciates UT Tyler’s commitment to partner with them, according to the news release.
“This is a terrific opportunity for our students,” Dr. Spangler said in the release. “It provides them with a seamless transition into the baccalaureate program and a direct line into good-paying jobs with employers who need workers with this level of training and expertise.”