How to Double Your Engineering Grads

Feb. 26, 2014

University of Utah Doubles Engineering Grads in Support of High-Tech Job Growth

Engineering students study at the University of Utah's Warnock Engineering Building. The College of Engineering at the university has doubled the number of engineering and computer science graduates since 1999, helping bolster Utah's high-tech economy. Photo Credit: Dan Hixon, University of Utah College of Engineering

University of Utah's (UU) College of Engineering has doubled the number of engineering and computer science degrees awarded since 1999. How, you might ask?

It all started with former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt's 2000 Engineering Initiative, which challenged the state's higher education system to double its number of engineering graduates. Support from the industry, Utah Legislature and Leavitt's successors as governor have all worked to see the initiative through.

In 1999, UU awarded a total of 368 engineering and computer science degrees to graduates. In 2013, 483 bachelors, 219 masters and 75 doctoral degrees were awarded.

"Our graduates are the lifeblood of technology companies," says Richard B. Brown, dean of the College of Engineering at UU. "Every software, biomedical, computer, semiconductor, aerospace and manufacturing company that moves to Utah evaluates the availability of engineering talent, and comes, in part, because of the college's well-educated, innovative and hard-working graduates."

The college encourages students and faculty to help improve the quality of life by addressing top engineering challenges. Together, the college's faculty and students founded 50 startup companies based upon university research, says Brown. The college added 55 new faculty members since 1999 and increased engineering research expenditures from $25 million in fiscal year 2002 to $81.5 million in fiscal year 2012.

"We are pleased that our College of Engineering is a model of growth and innovation," says David W. Pershing, president and distinguished professor of chemical engineering at of UU. "There is no better place for students and faculty to do great research and then carry it all the way to commercialization."

The American Society for Engineering Education ranks UU's College of Engineering 34th of 196 schools in the number of Ph.D. degrees awarded, 30th in research productivity out of 206 institutions, and 39th among 348 schools in undergraduate enrollment, according to UU.