The College of Engineering at Texas A&M has extended its reach throughout Texas with the addition of its fifth and final Chevron Engineering Academy at Austin Community College (ACC).
Engineering Academies are co-enrollment programs established between Texas A&M and select two-year institutions across the state of Texas. Students within the programs will spend two years at the respective community college or other two- year institution before transitioning to Texas A&M.
Katherine Banks, dean of the College of Engineering, said engineering classes within the Engineering Academies are taught by Texas A&M faculty.
“We send our faculty to the community colleges,” Banks said. “They teach these students their engineering courses as well as advise, mentor and connect these students with our main campus. The community college faculty teach math and science and the other classes required in the first and second year.”
Banks said the college eventually decided on ACC as the final Chevron Academy following the institution’s interest in becoming an Engineering Academy.
“They have a large program with very strong students,” Banks said. “ACC also has strong math and science faculty, and they have a targeted area within their curriculum toward engineering. With their enthusiasm, with the strength of the students, and the strength of their existing program, they were certainly a partner we were interested in pursuing.”
Zahra Parkar, industrial distribution junior, was a member of Team-E at Blinn- Bryan, the pilot program for the Engineering Academies. Parkar said she is excited to see the expansion of the Engineering Academies.
“I like that they are incorporating schools like ACC into it, because if you have family obligations at home you can still attend to that and then transfer to A&M still without having to go through the whole transfer process,” Parkar said. “I would have really enjoyed going to ACC and being at home.”
Jackie Perez, director of the Engineering Academies, said ACC will accept its first cohort of students beginning in the fall of 2017 along with Southmost College in Brownsville and Alamo College in San Antonio. The Academy at Houston Community College will enter its third year and El Centro Community College in Dallas will enter its second.
Perez said the program will lead to more students being able to come to Texas A&M. “A big part of Chevron partnering with us is wanting to look at efforts that are increasing access to an engineering education,” Perez said. “But also efforts that are increasing the diversity of the enrolled students both in the college of engineering and then ultimately of the talent pool that is graduating with an Aggie Engineering degree.”
Banks said the Engineering Academies provide opportunities to students who might not otherwise be able to attend Texas A&M after high school.
“These programs are for excellent students who for some reason or another can’t leave home immediately after high school graduation,” Banks said. “They may have family responsibilities or their family may not want them to leave home at age
18. These students should have the opportunity to become Aggie engineers. The Academy gives them a different pathway to do so.”