HD66 - Engineering and Technology Programs in Southside Virginia

  • Published: 1993
  • Author: State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and Department of the Treasury
  • Enabling Authority: House Joint Resolution 93 (Regular Session, 1992)

Executive Summary:
The request for this study was the result of a recommendation of the Philpott Commission in its 1992 report to the General Assembly (House Document Number 45) regarding the overall plan for the economic development of the Southside region. Delegate Bennett sponsored House Joint Resolution Number 93 requesting the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, in cooperation with the Southside Virginia Business and Education Commission, "to examine the need to increase or expand engineering and technology programs in the region's institutions of higher education. The Council and Commission are requested to submit their findings and recommendations to the House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education and Health."

The General Assembly's concerns and interests were highlighted in the language of the resolution. A complete copy of the resolution, as approved, is provided in Appendix A.

1. Increasingly complex technology will demand that the 21st century worker display mastery and knowledge of a variety of disciplines, particularly mathematics and sciences.

2. Manufacturing industries are important to the economic development of the Southside region. The region has attracted more than 50 new manufacturing plants in the last four years.

3. Advanced and technical education is important to the region and its industries. An adequate supply of professional engineers and technicians is critical to the continued development of the region.

4. Virginia's institutions of higher education must be equipped to provide the technological and engineering programs necessary to train these workers.

The General Assembly asked that the Council's study include, at least, an examination of current engineering programs, consideration of industry needs, estimated regional retention of program graduates, current and projected enrollments, and the use of satellite programs. With the exception of regional retention of program graduates, all of these issues were studied. Data were not available to adequately determine employment and residence status of program completers.

It appears that sufficient professional engineering graduates are available to meet the current and future needs of the industries in the region. The demand for engineering technologists is sufficient to justify the expansion of existing two-year programs and the development of a two-plus-two engineering technology degree program at several locations within the region. Longwood College and other institutions within the region should be asked to provide some upper level courses to supplement the offerings of the community colleges and Old Dominion University. Because much of the need for baccalaureate engineering technologists will emerge over the next ten years, a selected number of sites should be used to test student demand and the long-term employment and in-service training needs of local industries during the 1993-96 period. Delivery of four-year engineering and engineering technology programs via technology and on-site instruction should be tested and evaluated before investments in capital sites or permanent staff are made.