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25 in 25

While some in the semiconductor industry may doubt the veracity of claims that we’re looking at a dire shortage of engineers in the United States, recently reported enrollment numbers at Texas A&M’s Dwight Look College of Engineering indicate that the public believes.  The college of engineering received more than 10,000 applications for 1.600 available spots in its freshman engineering class last year.  Eschewing philosophical and economic arguments, Texas A&M has decided to respond to this demand, in the main, for one reason: they are a publicly sponsored institution and the public has indicated a pent up demand for engineering education.  To meet the demand, Texas A&M announced their 25 by 25 plan.  The basic goal of the program is to more than double the engineering enrollment from the current 12,000 plus students to 25,000 by the year 2025.  The plan is simple in nature and is outlined here.  The goal is not set in stone and A&M has vowed to halt the program if it ever becomes evident that quality is being sacrificed for quantity.

How will A&M double the number of students in the program without sacrificing quantity and with no published plans for infrastructure growth?  For now, the answer is technology.  Thankfully, A&M has also vowed not to become an online purveyor of degrees stating that they believe the campus experience is valuable in and of itself.  They intend to use techniques like flipped classrooms to decrease the load on available classrooms even as the student body grows.

Will the initiative work?  Only time will tell.  Is the initiative actually necessary?  For the sake of the students entering the program let’s all hope so.  I can remember more than a few very disappointed avionics engineer after the boom and bust ‘shortage’ of aircraft engineers of the late 1980′s.

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