EvCC’s engineering program shifts into high gear

  • By Amy Watkins HBJ Freelance Writer
  • Tuesday, July 30, 2013 2:52pm

EVERETT — The engineering program at Everett Community College has experienced a growth streak.

Enrollment has increased from 256 students in the 2009-10 academic year to 417 students this year and the college has ramped up its program in several different ways.

The college in the fall started offering evening engineering courses that generally begin at 4 p.m. or later. These courses offer non-traditional students, who may already work full-time jobs, the chance to attend. All courses needed for the associate of science degree will be available in the evening or online by the 2014-15 academic year.

“Non-traditional students may be already working and have a home so they’re place bound in Everett or Seattle,” said Joe Graber, engineering instructor at EvCC. “This is a great opportunity for them to go through and not have to interrupt their lives.”

Another change that is a result of increased interest in the engineering program at EvCC is a newly designed 100-level engineering curriculum. The new curriculum aims to retain students by showing them what it is like to be an engineer, Graber said. For example, an incoming class may experience disassembling a lawn mower engine and designing a solar thermal heater to go on the roof of a building.

“Sometimes students can get lost,” Graber said. “They like building stuff but are taking years of math and get burnt out. This is introducing them to real engineering up front.”

Another new opportunity on the EvCC campus began last fall when Washington State University started offering a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering program. The program opened with an enrollment of 25 students. Thirty students have been accepted for next year, Graber said.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to go two years, get their associate of science transfer degree, and go directly into a university,” he said. “They received more applications than they could accept this year.”

New engineering lab facilities that are scheduled to open on the EvCC campus in January are another welcome change, agree Graber and Al Friedman, dean of math and science at EvCC. The new facilities will make it so students pursuing their mechanical engineering degree from Washington State University won’t need to travel off the EvCC campus in order to complete the curriculum.

“They supplied the equipment and we supplied the space,” said Friedman. “Our students are able to use the space and the equipment. I’m glad to have been part of making that happen.”

Offering the bachelor of science in mechanical engineering degree has allowed for “a more seamless kind of transition” for students who otherwise would have transferred to a four-year college to complete their bachelor’s degree, Friedman said. It also allows for students to better plan for internships.

“Here that will be a transition that students will hardly even notice,” he said. “Now students can start working and putting together that internship that normally would only be open to university students and start doing that their sophomore year.”

EvCC student Amy Felt, 22, is working toward graduating next June with her engineering transfer degree. She then plans to stay on the EvCC campus and work toward earning her mechanical engineering degree from Washington State University.

Felt began an internship in July at Janicki Industries in Sedro-Woolley. In September, she plans to start another internship with NASA at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A project in Graber’s class that involved analyzing a crane helped her secure an interview for the internship, Felt said. She added that small classes of no more than 25 to 30 students means that instructors know who she is and were able to write letters of recommendations for her.

“The professors were really supportive,” Felt said. “It gave me the confidence to apply to get the (NASA) internship.”

Managing the rapidly increasing enrollment and interest in the engineering program has not been easy, Friedman said. Some courses do have a waiting list.

“I’d like to be more stable and able to predict enrollment,” he said. “You know something is going right when advanced calculus has a wait list.”

To learn more information about EvCC’s engineering program, send email to engineering@everettcc.edu or call 425-405-0055.