Becoming an engineer is not easy. It requires intelligence, hard work and real determination.
But it doesn’t have to be expensive.
We’ve proven this at Texas A&M through the success of our Academy of Engineering program, which allows kids who have the smarts and drive to become an engineer—even if they can’t leave home for a dorm room in College Station after high school.
More than 2,300 kids from Fort Worth, Austin, Brenham, Dallas, Houston, Midland, San Antonio and Bryan-College Station have benefited and enrolled in the Academy program since it launched in 2015. And they save a lot of money in the process.
Accomplishing this was not rocket science, and the success of this program can be replicated.
Here’s how it works: We send top-tier engineering professors from Texas A&M University to community colleges, where students take the first two years of core courses before transferring to Texas A&M College of Engineering in College Station to finish. We have plans to expand this opportunity to other partner organizations soon, broadening the scope of this ambitious effort.
One of our partners is Tarrant County College.
Most of these children stay at home, with the support of their families. This saves them tens of thousands of dollars in expenses.
The statistics for children who have benefited from this program are encouraging: 33% of them are the first generation in their family to have a university degree. Nearly a fifth are female, and 40% are Hispanic.
Of course, we were heavily criticized when we started this. They said, “You’re going to flood the market with engineers. None of those kids are going to get jobs. You’re going to get lower level students.”
None of this has been proven true. Indeed, these students did an amazing job. The 256 students who earn engineering degrees at Texas A&M through our academies have a GPA of 3.2, the same as our traditional engineering students.
81% of our Academy of Engineering students remain in the program three years after taking their first semester. They don’t wash. And after graduation, they get high-paying jobs.
That’s because getting an engineering degree from Texas A&M can be your ticket to a better life. It is one of our top-ranked degrees, and our graduates are usually hired right out of school.
This is no surprise. The need for talented engineers is constantly growing. Just look out the window and you can see why: everything you see is either made by God or an engineer.
Thanks to the success of the Texas A&M Academy of Engineering at Tarrant County College, the Aggie engineer is going to make more of them.
John Sharp is the chancellor of the Texas A&M University System.