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Deans quantify engineering enrollment increase

Retention of current students part of plan to increase engineers

Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 00:02

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Tanner Garza

Deans from the Department of Engineering field student questions about the 25 by 25 initiative.

Deans from the Dwight Look College of Engineering answered students’ questions about the plan to increase engineering enrollment to 25,000 students by 2025.

To address student concerns about the controlled enrollment growth program — called 25 by 25 — Texas A&M Student Engineers’ Council set up a student forum to encourage conversation between engineering deans and students Monday afternoon in the Zachry building.

Several students voiced concerns regarding how the dramatic increase in enrollment in the college of engineering will affect the quality of an engineering education at A&M.

“We will enhance the quality of an engineering education at Texas A&M as we grow by enhancing the experience,” said vice chancellor and dean of engineering Katherine Banks.

Banks said as an example of the innovative teaching style promised of the 25 by 25 initiative, students may watch an online lecture at home before going into the classroom with a smaller team to gain hands-on experience.

To accommodate these types of learning experiences, the 25 by 25 initiative includes plans to renovate and expand the Zachry Engineering Center into a state-of-the-art engineering complex. The new building will house teaching laboratories, experimental learning labs, tutoring facilities, flexible classrooms and interactive learning systems used to educate a technologically advanced generation.

The building will be open 24/7 and dedicated solely to undergraduates.

The plan of the enhanced learning environment is to improve the overall educational experience, regardless of the quantity of students, by integrating technology with teaching, as well as increasing faculty.

Another common concern among students was how the deans plan on retaining current engineering students.

“The first year is about making an informed decision about whether or not you want to be an engineer,” said director of undergraduate programs, Peter Imbrie.

He said the goal is to help freshmen engineering majors experience engineering in a way that gives them a better understanding about what it means to be an engineer in the real world.

 “We want to work to help them make an informed decision,” Imbrie said.

The deans maintained that the goal of 25,000 students by 2025 is attainable with greater retention of students already enrolled.

Though students expressed many concerns, the deans remained positive.

“Our brand is very strong and we do not want to negatively affect that,” Banks said. “If that happens, we will stop.”

 

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