Director of Marketing & Public Relations
Belton, Texas –The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor announced a new pre-engineering program, which begins this fall in the College of Science. The new program has been established in conjunction with the engineering degree program at Baylor University.
The program is the result of a new partnership between UMHB and Baylor University, which allows students to complete the first three years of course work in Belton, then transfer to Baylor University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science in Waco to complete the final two years of their degree requirements. When they finish, the students will have earned two degrees: a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Science from UMHB and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree from Baylor. Students may choose to pursue a general engineering degree or may narrow their studies to specialize in mechanical, electrical, biomedical, or computer engineering.
According to Dr. Bill Tanner, chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UMHB, there is a shortage of engineers in Texas, and this program will help address this need. The Texas Workforce Commission has estimated that more than 4,000 engineering jobs will be open each year between 2007 and 2016 in the state of Texas. Until recently, students wanting to prepare for a career in engineering could not do so at UMHB, but the new degree program in pre-engineering will open the door for engineering students who want do their work at the university.
“We anticipate beginning the program this fall with about 25 majors enrolled in our engineering classes,” says Dr. Tanner.
UMHB students will take courses in university basics such as English, history, and religion as well as prerequisite courses in mathematics, science, computer science, and engineering, to prepare for upper-level classes in engineering. Students in the program will be expected to maintain a strong grade point average to qualify for admission to the engineering program at Baylor.
Though the addition of a pre-engineering program has been considered from time to time, only recently has it become an affordable option.
“We’ve been interested in starting a pre-engineering program at UMHB for a number of years, because we know that the demand for trained engineers is very strong,” said Tanner. “In the past, it was very difficult for a university to launch a new engineering program, because it required an enormous investment in laboratory equipment. But advances in computer simulation software have now made it possible for students to learn the principles of electrical and mechanical engineering and test their work in virtual environments, which reduces the need for costly equipment.”
“For instance, MatLab software allows us to simulate the reactions of equations used to describe physical events: a student can key in an angle for a canon to be set, key in the velocity of the canon ball, run the program, and find out what the trajectory of the shot would be—without having to actually fire a canon,” said Tanner. “Using LabView software, the student can ‘construct’ a logic circuit to show the flow of information through a series of logical gates—then test a physical circuit design to see if it actually works.”
“These programs and others have revolutionized the teaching of engineering; they are extremely sophisticated, but they can be run on a common personal computer. When we combine these virtual lab assignments with actual, hands-on projects, it becomes a very effective way to teach the mechanisms of and solutions to problems in engineering.”
UMHB’s pre-engineering program began as a pilot project with Baylor four years ago; an articulation agreement signed this summer made the “3 + 2” program between the two schools official.
“We appreciate having the opportunity to collaborate with Baylor in this venture,” Tanner says. “Our partnership with Baylor has made it possible to launch our program without having to add a cadre of new faculty members up front. And the affiliation between our schools is an attractive recruiting point for the program, because our students know they will get the best of both worlds—the personalized undergraduate experience at UMHB and the chance to complete their degrees at a nationally recognized engineering department at Baylor.”
UMHB President Randy O’Rear concurs. “This is a win-win situation for UMHB, for Baylor and for our students,” said O’Rear. “We are delighted that we will be doing our part to help more students prepare for a career in engineering. We foresee a bright future for this program, and we look forward to our graduates’ joining the ranks of engineers who are building a better tomorrow for us all.”