If all goes as planned, ETSU will partake in a new joint engineering program alongside Tennessee Tech starting fall 2016.

“This is literally a brand new program for us,” said Joseph Sims, a professor of engineering technology at ETSU. “It’s also a new program for Tennessee Tech. Even though they have existing engineering programs, they don’t have engineering degrees in these programs. So for both schools, it is a start up.”

ETSU and Tennessee Tech will be sharing an engineering degree.

Sims said part of the issue with getting this program started is the amount of paperwork and materials that have to be developed in order to start a new program.

“You can imagine the type of academic paperwork that you have to have to make that occur,” Sims said. “Because if things work the way we think it will, the degree will say East Tennessee State University and Tennessee Technical College and will have both presidents’ signatures.”

Plans are in place for the program, but nothing is set in stone until the Tennessee Higher Education Commission director signs his name and approves the program.

“In terms of details of the plan, that’s in place,” said Keith Johnson, chairperson for the department of engineering technology. “We’re just waiting for the final approval. We have done our part.”

Sims said they have gone through the first phase of approval.

“We are in the second phase of approval, that is where we get each campus to approve the curriculum,” Sims said. “Then, all that gets submitted again to Tennessee Board of Regents, and [Tennessee Higher Education Commission] gets the final approval. Then, they will issue a letter saying we are good to go.”

ETSU isn’t allowed to advertise the new program to students until THEC gives its final approval. The new program will have a standard engineering curriculum.

“It’s a typical engineering degree,” Sims said. “It will have a general engineering curriculum, an engineering-management curriculum and a construction-management curriculum.”

Just like other joint programs at ETSU, classes will have the same course numbers but will be taught by different professors and in different locations.

The program was made possible because of the work done by the universities’ respective presidents and campuses, Sims aid. “This will benefit both schools. One, Tech doesn’t have these programs right now, and two, Tech gets another nursing program and expands the advocacy of our nursing program, and it basically gives us a good chunk of the upper part of East Tennessee, where we can both draw students in simultaneously.”

Sims said the final budget has not been approved, but the project won’t cost more than any other technical academic program.

“It will cost us less than a start-up program, because we already have the labs in place, and some of the faculty are already in place,” Johnson said.

Sims and Johnson hope to begin recruiting students sometime near the end of this summer.

“Dr. [Dennis] Depew, Dean of College of Business and Technology at ETSU, has said we are going to have a push to let people know about the programs, so we look forward to that,” Sims said. “Hopefully, we will have some guidance on how to apply to the program.”