New engineering program receives negative feedback from other UW System schools
February 4, 2015
UW-River Falls, along with UW-Stout and UW-Eau Claire, have proposed a new engineering program to be incorporated between the three universities, but has received negative input from other UW chancellors, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
The new engineering program would offer new degree programs in agriculture engineering and environmental engineering. The proposal argues that there are not enough engineers in the northwestern part of the state.
“UWRF already has a strong degree program in agricultural environmental technology, and this is a logical next step to further strengthen the university’s programs in [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] areas,” said Chancellor Dean Van Galen in an email.
Chancellors from UW-Madison and UW-Platteville, each with existing programs, have spoken out against the idea, and explained that the five current schools that offer engineering programs can be expanded. They also argued that the new program would cause unnecessary costs.
Importantly, with this new program, students would not need to transfer to a larger university, like Madison, to get an engineering degree.
“Students could finish their dual degrees in their home location, and not have to worry about going to a bigger school like Madison,” said Dr. Rellen Hardtke, engineering coordinator. “Students can’t always pack up and leave their jobs, friends and family.”
According to a study done by Harvard University, college students are more likely to pick a university that is closer to home than going farther away. Students that attend a university closer to home are likely to save thousands more rather than going to school farther away.
“About 72 percent of UWRF students come from within a 100-mile radius, and this new program would be more likely to attract those students,” Van Galen said.
UWRF would offer high-quality engineering programs in a student-centered environment. This would make the campus attractive to potential students.
“100 percent of our engineering students are employed upon graduation, and this new program would be an added bonus to UWRF,” Hardtke said.
This new program wouldn’t have an impact on tuition rates, and current staff would teach the new courses. Over time, some faculty may be added to meet student needs.
The program will be presented in front of the UW System Board of Regents on Friday, Feb. 6, and if it’s approved, the planning for the program can move forward.
UWRF also offers an engineering camp for teenagers that are interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. The program is put on by Madison and UWRF, and is hosted on the River Falls campus for students that are entering the eighth grade.
Students will live in the residence halls and eat in the campus cafeteria. They will also participate in hands-on activities, and get the opportunity to travel to local companies and engineering facilities to see what an engineer does in real life situations.
“There would no impact on the engineering camps for teenagers in the short term with the addition to this program, although it may be interesting to work with Eau Claire and Stout on a camp in the future,” Van Galen said.