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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M grows partnerships with community colleges

The+Engineering+Academies+are+one+of+the+keystones+of+the+College+of+Engineerings+Plan+to+have+25000+Engineering+Students+by+2025.
Photo by Graphic by Rachel Grant

The Engineering Academies are one of the keystones of the College of Engineering’s Plan to have 25000 Engineering Students by 2025.

Over the next two years, A&M plans to expand student enrollment at community colleges around the state of Texas.
A&M’s engineering department was granted $5 million two years ago from Chevron to help establish co-enrollment programs for engineering students across the state. Starting this fall, Austin Community College and Texas Southmost will join the Chevron academies, which include El Centro, Richland and Houston community colleges.
Current programs at Blinn-Brenham and Blinn-Bryan have served as a testing ground for academies, and in two years, the Alamo Colleges in San Antonio will join as the sixth academy. Richland College in Dallas joined in the fall last year, but already had an established engineering program allowing Texas A&M to benefit from their current student population.
Jackie Perez, Director of the Engineering Academies, said the engineering academies offer many benefits, offering students to live near home, save money and take the same courses as a student at A&M’s College Station campus.
“It allows many of the students to live at home so you take the savings of the cost of living, and most of them are working and by the ability to stay at home, allows them to continue their current employment, which also helps them financially, whether for them or their families,” Perez said. “The cost of education savings, we have calculated, can be up to $50,000 with some of our Chevron academies.”
Each student is required to take a minimum of two semesters and a maximum of four semesters co-enrolled before transitioning to A&M’s College Station campus. Ideally, the students at the academies to go through the entry into a major process at the end of their freshman year, along with the students at the College Station campus.
According to Jon Buchanan, Associate Director of Engineering Academies, about 50 percent of students transfer to College Station immediately after their acceptance, and the other 50 percent stay at the academy one more year before coming to College Station’s campus due to limited space at A&M.
Currently, the established A&M academies of Blinn-Bryan has 366 students and Blinn-Brenham has 65 students. The new Chevron academies plan to increase student enrollment from a total of 53 students at Houston and 14 students at El Centro. Buchanan said while many of the academies are starting with small cohorts, the college hopes to expand as the opportunity arises.
“Once we open with all those academies up and running, our goal is to enroll 1,000 new academy students every year,” Buchanan said. “Four hundred [at A&M] are Blinn-Bryan, 600 across the others — ideally 100 at each institution. So we have room for growth with these numbers for sure, so we are looking forward to that.”
With the addition of the Chevron academies in 2015, the number of students across all the academies increased from 113 students in 2013 and 227 students in 2014 to a total of 473 students in 2015 and 427 students in 2016.
Ian Horbaczewski, associate professor and El Centro College supporter, said the academies are here to provide all students the chance to be a part of the Texas A&M engineering program, despite any financial or social commitments.
“The purpose of the academies we want to expand the access of the Texas A&M engineering program throughout Texas. We also want to increase the affordability to future students and then we want to contribute to the technical workforce of the future.”
Perez said students who are co-enrolled through their local college and who have maintained the same academic level as students in College Station have a just as good an opportunity than a student at another campus.
“The students that receive an entry into an engineering major [with] their average GPA about at a 3.00 is comparable for students who start as freshman on the College Station campus,” Perez said. “This tells us — performance wise — that they are performing on par with their peers that did not start co-enrolled.”
Horbaczewski said the faculty strives to give the students at the community colleges similar opportunities to students in College Station.
“We are trying to make sure that these students can have the same opportunities, or at least as many opportunities as possible as those on the College Station campus,” Horbaczewski said. “[We offer] the study abroad program, the NASA program, we also brought the students to a football game in the fall and the engineering career fair in the spring.”

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