High school students will have a chance to see how they like engineering with some foundational dual credit courses through University of Texas Permian Basin starting in fall 2022.
“The Bridge to Engineering program offers basic engineering classes to high school students so that they will be able to take it for credit and that will enable them to save some time, as well as money, in terms of tuition,” Dean of the College of Engineering George Nnanna said.
Nnanna added that this is the first time this option has been offered.
Kamryn Wesson, communications and recruitment specialist has been instrumental in putting it together and making sure it came to fruition, he said.
“We are launching a couple of classes beginning in fall of ‘22. Those are … introduction to engineering. The introduction to engineering will provide an opportunity for students to gain fundamental knowledge of various aspects of engineering, from mechanical engineering to chemical, electrical, as well petroleum engineering,” Nnanna said.
The second part is the fundamentals of petroleum engineering.
“The fundamentals of petroleum engineering will provide students with an in-depth understanding of petroleum and they will understand views from the industry perspective, including exploration, evaluation, drilling production, as well as transportation. These are the various areas within petroleum engineering that students can focus on. The beautiful thing about this program is that they are transferable, so it’s not boxing students into coming to UTPB. Of course, we would love them to come here. But students that register and get the credits here, may decide to go to another institution. If they are focusing on engineering, they can still transfer the introduction to engineering in that institution and get a credit for it,” Nnanna said.
Wesson said the courses are $100 each.
“So additionally in my personal opinion, exposing the students at this stage to interact with university professors, to interact with engineering students, to gain insight into what it means to be an engineer, I think it’s really a good privilege to have. I’m very excited about offering this opportunity …,” Nnanna said.
If the courses prove popular, they will offer another two courses.
“One will be in the area of mechanical engineering, introducing them to basic engineering design using SOLIDWORKS. We’ll be using this software to design engineering systems. Those are the freshman level. The second course we intend to add will be in electrical engineer object-oriented programming using a software called Java. So that will give them an insight on how to code and potentially give them that test of how electrical engineering relates to computer science, as well as computer engineering. We will be launching that when we get to a stage that we feel comfortable …,” Nnanna added.
He believes in the courses so much, he is trying to get his daughter, who attends the Early College High School, located at Midland College, to sign up.
“I think once we advertise it, and the community knows about it and we work with the high schools, I am very confident that we will have interest,” Nnanna said.
Heather Cress is the dual credit coordinator and Wesson said she has been calling high school counselors in the Permian Basin to let them know about the opportunity.
“But it is summer, so a lot of these counselors are not at school right now. So I think in the coming weeks we’ll have a little more interest as we see those counselors answering their emails and calls and things like that,” Wesson said.
Both of the courses will be offered fully online, so that allows students a lot of flexibility for them and their high school to work out when they can work on the course.
But Nnanna said students can also take the courses face to face.
“That’s going to be up to each high school, how they operate, but we really want to work with any high school who’s willing,” Wesson said. “Students who are interested in this can go to general.utpb.edu/dualcredit and they can fill out that application form there. And something to note is these two courses are not in the dropdown menu there, so students should just indicate that they would like to be a part of Bridge to Engineering. They can want to stamp the courses however they want to say that in the additional information box. Then Heather Cress, our dual credit coordinator, will reach out to the high school and we have to have a partnership with the high school in order for them to be a part of these courses. So we really want to make sure that we’re working with all the high schools in the area to allow students to have this opportunity,” Wesson added.
Nnanna said they will offer an opportunity for students that are taking the online courses to visit with the engineering building, tour the facility and interact with the faculty and students.
The deadline to enroll is Sept. 7, Wesson said, but courses start in August.
“I’m the recruiter for the College of Engineering, communications and recruitment specialist is my official title. It’s part of my job to help these students have a good experience here. I want them to want to come to UTPB to be part of our college and so this is an effort for us to … allow students to see who we are and help them become a student here at UTPB in the College of Engineering,” Wesson said.
Nnanna added that this will also help students decide if engineering is for them.
“If a student took the introduction to engineering, after a semester they will have some idea of whether engineering is good for them or not. Even if they decide against it, to me personally, that’s still a win-win. Otherwise they could have registered for engineering, spend a semester and then decide to change major. So by giving them this early opportunity to evaluate the discipline of engineering, I think it’s a savings on the students’ time and a savings on their parents’ finances. So it’s definitely a win,” Nnanna said.
Wesson said if students need help filling out the application or have any questions, they can either email [email protected] or call Cress at 432-552-4555.
“I have to say the quality of our engineering here is very strong. We are ranked number one for the best value College of Engineering in the state of Texas. And in 2019, we were ranked number one by U.S. News and World Report for highest paid salaries in petroleum engineering. Even with our fundamentals of engineering and exams, which is for licensing, our three-year average is 86%, which is 10% higher than the national average. So the quality of education here is strong, as evidenced by this data, yet it is highly affordable. If you look at the return on the investment it is huge. If you look at return on investment as the cost of the education versus the salary, if you take that ratio UTPB is much in a better place than other institutions,” Nnanna said.