January 31, 2018 | Jim Townsend
Beginning this fall, University of Houston-Clear Lake will offer a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering to help meet industries’ growing demand for trained engineers.
In a meeting Jan. 25, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved UH-Clear Lake’s request to offer the degree program.
The university expects to admit 50 students in the first program year and 55 in the second program year. “Once the program is established, we anticipate admitting about 81 students per year in order to ensure high-quality preparation for service delivery,” said A. Glen Houston, interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.
“The B.S. in Mechanical Engineering will prepare competent engineering practitioners who are grounded in scientific theories and hands-on laboratory experience,” Houston said. “It will provide the regional industry with engineers with general competencies to practice a wide range of basic mechanical engineering tasks.”
Houston added, “The program will produce professionals with basic competencies to address mechanical engineering and related needs of the city of Houston and surrounding areas, the state of Texas, and the United States. The graduates from this program will be competently ready to become professional engineers in mechanical engineering.”
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of mechanical engineers will grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024. The unemployment rate among mechanical engineers is 1.6 percent, well below national averages. And Forbes reported in 2014 that 23 percent of the engineering workforce is older than 55, which creates a spike in demand for engineers.
The College of Science and Engineering, under the direction of Dean Ju Kim, will hire two full-time faculty to begin in the fall semester, joining Professor of Mechanical Engineering Jeffrey R. Mountain, chair of the Mechanical Engineering program. Mountain joined UHCL in September 2017 in anticipation of the program’s approval. He held a similar position at Norwich University in Vermont. He currently teaches mechanical engineering courses as part of UHCL’s pre-engineering offerings.
The program will reside in UHCL’s new building for science, technology, engineering and mathematics classrooms and laboratories, now under construction and on schedule to open in the fall. The $65.7 million STEM and Classroom building will include 15 teaching labs for mechanical engineering, physics, chemistry, geology, industrial hygiene and environmental safety. It will also house 12 specialty rooms for mechanical-engineering projects, computer-aided drafting, 3-D printing and more.
The university will add more faculty as the program grows. Upon the graduation of the program’s first student, the university will seek accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
For more information, visit www.uhcl.edu/science-engineering.