As the debate rages about whether industry faces an actual dearth of skilled talent or just a mismatch in employer/employee expectations, schools around the country are working to increase the talent pool for manufacturing. Answering the challenge set forth by former Utah Governor Michael Leavitt’s 2000 Engineering Initiative, the University of Utah’s College of Engineering has doubled the number of degrees awarded per year since 1999.
The college awarded 777 degrees in 2013 (483 bachelor’s, 219 master’s and 75 doctoral degrees), more than twice the 368 engineering and computer science degrees issued in 1999.
“Our graduates are the lifeblood of technology companies,” said Richard B. Brown, dean of the College of Engineering. “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.”
Despite strong economic headwinds in recent years, the college expanded its tenured and tenure-track faculty from 101 in 1999 to 156 last year. The college increased engineering research expenditures from $25 million in fiscal year 2002 to $81.5 million in fiscal 2012.
In the past eight years, the college’s faculty and students have founded 50 startup companies based on university research, Brown noted. “We are pleased that our College of Engineering is a model of growth and innovation,” said University of Utah President David W. Pershing, a distinguished professor of chemical engineering. “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 the University of Utah 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.