Engineering at Nebraska, Spring 2007
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front and center:
College Takes STEP to Help Transfer Students:

STEP logoStudents will no longer have to worry whether the credits they earn at a community college will count toward an engineering degree from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The National Science Foundation has awarded the College of Engineering a $1.99 million grant to form a partnership with Nebraska’s six community college areas that will enable students to complete select freshman and sophomore engineering courses at any Nebraska community college and transfer seamlessly into the College of Engineering.

With the Strengthening Transitions into Engineering Program, transfer students will be able to finish a baccalaureate engineering degree within a traditional time frame.

“We recognized that an education in engineering was not an attractive option for community college or transfer students,” said Stephanie G. Adams, associate dean for undergraduate education.

Adams said in the past, a student who attended a community college and transferred into the College of Engineering typically had enough total credit hours to be a junior, but was a freshman in terms of engineering courses.

“This project guarantees the transfer of engineering course credits and makes the pursuit of an education in engineering more accessible,” she said.

UNL and community college faculty are developing curriculum for four engineering courses, two of which will be offered in fall 2007. The College of Engineering also will offer a complementary set of support activities such as mentoring, summer enrichment programs, campus visits, parent orientation programs and career workshops.

Administrators hope STEP will increase the number of engineers in Nebraska.

Randy VanWagoner, vice president of educational services for Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, said the economy of Nebraska is directly linked to the quality of its educational system.

“Many companies decide to build plants and locate headquarters in a state based, in large part, on the education level of its citizens,” VanWagoner said. “Providing this enhanced educational option and increasing the number of graduates in engineering will increase opportunities for these graduates and provide another benefit for Nebraska when companies consider expanding or opening new facilities in our state.”

Each year approximately 72 students transfer from Nebraska’s community colleges to the College of Engineering. One goal of STEP is to increase the transfer rate to 216 students by 2012. Another objective is to increase enrollment and graduation of underrepresented students, including minorities and women.

Central Community College President LaVern Franzen said STEP would be helpful for first-generation college students who are still setting their educational goals.

“To have this when they’re trying to find a direction in their schooling is a real opportunity, especially for those with an aptitude in math and science. I think there will be a number of students who never thought of engineering but will find this to be a quite an attraction.”