Tyler Junior College engineering students can begin taking more courses as a result of a recently signed compact between TJC and The University of Texas at Tyler. The goal is to increase the number of engineers in Texas by making engineering education more available and affordable.

“My hope is that we will see more students enter the engineering program because it’s easier to start at a community college. It’s less expensive and assures the work will transfer to UT,” said Dr. Butch Hayes, TJC provost.

Both UT-Tyler and TJC signed the Voluntary Statewide Mechanical Engineering Transfer Compact (VSMETC) during a ceremony held Oct.5 at UT-Tyler’s Ratliff Engineering and Science Complex.

The primary goal for signing the compact was to establish a program of study at the community college level that will in-turn increase the amount of community college students that transfer.

“Our focus and what we were working on is to prepare them for the next level,” said Hayes.

Starting spring semester, students can begin taking engineering courses on the TJC campus as well as the UT-Tyler campus.

“What I’m hoping to see is a lot more students who are coming into careers gearing toward engineering and computer science,” said Dr. James Nelson, UT-Tyler College of Engineering and Computer Science dean.

Nelson said that about half the students who attend UT-Tyler are transfer students. The compact isn’t specifically for TJC. TJC is just the first community college to sign the compact.

“The whole thing is no matter where a student starts, as long as that institution has agreed, those courses will transfer because we have all agreed to teach the same course content that have the same learning objectives achieved within those courses,” said Nelson. “That’s where from a stand point of a student it opens their options wide.”

TJC and UT Tyler are the first higher education institutions to sign the VSMET compact that was established through The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. It was funded through the Lumina Foundation for Education.

Although classes officially begin this spring semester, students are already taking introductory classes in the engineering field at TJC.

“In our intro class, we actually get to see the difference between a two-year community college and the four-year university,” said Jeremy Glasscock, engineering major.

“Our lecture class is set in stone on Mondays at TJC, but UT makes it really convenient by letting us choose out of three different nights for our lab class.”

Glasscock also said that the lab at UT-Tyler is enjoyable and imaginative. A few of their projects have been building a bridge out of K’NEX, creating a mountain lift out of Lego gear and even making an LED (light-emitting diode) strobe light.

“We defined a set of courses… that fit most mechanical engineering programs in the state,” said Nelson. “If a student pursues those [courses] when they get to the four-year institution; they should be able to finish in another four or five semesters total after attending two years at TJC.”

Nelson also described how quickly an associate degree graduate was able to obtain their Bachelor’s degree now that UT-Tyler and TJC are working together. Before these courses were implemented, students were taking up to seven courses at UT-Tyler mainly because of poor course choices at community colleges.

The introductory class along with the new engineering courses are available for on-line registration Nov. 2.

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