This year marks the beginning of a new joint engineering program between ETSU and Tennessee Technological University.

“This program offers the unique opportunity to combine the efforts of two universities toward recruiting for a single shared degree,” said Keith Johnson, the chairperson for the ETSU Department of Engineering Technology, Surveying and Digital Media.

The program truly is a joint effort: Students learn through both universities.

“The student must earn at least 32 semester credits at East Tennessee State University and 32 semester credits at Tennessee Technological University,” Johnson said.

In addition to engineering-specific classes, students must also take other math and science courses in the program.

“Students will meet the gen-ed requirement by taking courses that includes, but not limited to technical physics, calculus and the like,” Johnson said.

Johnson expects that many of the students who will enroll in the program are from counties without higher education access to engineering programs.

“Many of these rural counties have a significant manufacturing presence with a population of possible students who would like to continue their education,” Johnson said.

Johnson believes that the new engineering program will be able to aid students who want to advance their skills in the field.

“In order to support fulfilling the need to provide wider access across the state to higher education opportunities, this program will be offered online and at campus locations,” Johnson said.

Johnson hopes that the new program will appeal to students who want to enter the growing engineering field in the U.S.

“There is a significant regional and national demand for students who earn a degree in general engineering,” Johnson said. “Students graduating with a major in engineering will be prepared to use their focused study in math, science and engineering to solve problems and design solutions in a variety of industries and settings.”

Johnson believes that the joint program will allow students to work in a field where they are greatly needed.

“The multi-disciplinary nature of this program will prepare students to serve needs in general manufacturing, technical services, construction and management of complex technical processes and programs,” Johnson said. “The general engineering area is one of the more rapidly growing engineering degrees in the United States.”

Johnson expects this rising need for general engineers to inspire enrollment in the program at ETSU.

“So far without any advertising, we have nine students enrolled in the first course,” Johnson said. “Numerous students have expressed interest in the program, and we are anticipating a class size of approximately 20 students for Fall 2017, whom will serve as our inaugural cohort of record.”

Although the program is starting small, Johnson believes that it will grow quickly and rival other major engineering programs in the region.

“I envision the engineering program becoming one of the most recognized programs in the state,” Johnson said. “I expect rapid growth regarding enrollment and employment after graduation. I expect the program will encourage some of the brightest minds to enroll in ETSU who otherwise would attend universities including, but not limited to Georgia Tech, Clemson, Virginia Tech, University of Tennessee and the like.”