Students at the state’s second-largest public university will soon be able to pursue an additional undergraduate engineering degree as part of an expanded agreement with the nation’s first technological institution west of the Mississippi River.
For the past decade, Missouri State University has offered courses in civil engineering and electrical engineering on its Springfield campus taught by faculty from Missouri S&T and Missouri State.
Starting this fall, Missouri State students can apply to a third Missouri S&T engineering program — this one in mechanical engineering —that will begin in fall 2019. As with other S&T’s engineering programs, students must first fulfill undergraduate prerequisites in a pre-engineering program before taking classes in their discipline.
“Missouri S&T and Missouri State forged a commitment to combine our resources and expand our world-class engineering curriculum into southwest Missouri,” says Dr. Richard Wlezien, S&T’s vice provost and dean of engineering and computing. “The success of those efforts is based on a true partnership that has paved the path forward towards a broader collaboration that serves as a model for public universities in this state and beyond.”
Mechanical engineering has a rich history in Rolla that dates back more than a century, when the university was known as the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy. These days, nearly 1,000 undergraduates and graduate students and more than 40 full-time faculty call the mechanical and aerospace engineering department home, making it the largest academic unit at S&T.
The Missouri State-S&T cooperative engineering program is based at the Robert W. Plaster Center for Free Enterprise and Business Development in Springfield, part of the university’s IDEA Commons. With the academic expansion, the Plaster Center will grow by nearly 10,000 square feet to accommodate additional classrooms, faculty and graduate student laboratories, an increase of more than 400 percent of its current capacity.
More than 200 students have graduated from the cooperative engineering program since its start, says Dr. Tamera Jahnke, dean of Missouri State’s College of Natural and Applied Sciences.
“Missouri S&T is an outstanding partner, and we look forward to expanding opportunities for students in southwest Missouri,” she says. “The cooperative engineering students readily obtain both internships and jobs. Together, we’re playing a significant role in workforce development for the state of Missouri.”
In addition to the degree program expansion and physical growth, a greater number of Missouri State students are now able to study engineering. The program initially limited participants to students who had graduated high school in a 16-county area of southwest Missouri, but that restriction was lifted in January of this year.