Engineering Classes Begin Prior to Grand Opening

2013-09-08 16:03:22

Although the grand opening for the renovated Engineering Technology (ET) building at Arizona Western College won’t be held until October, classes are in session and work is being done now with local businesses to secure internships to benefit students.

Thanks to a $6 million STEM Futures Grant awarded to AWC, a five-year cooperative partnership was developed between the college and the University of Arizona to offer a bachelor’s of science degree in systems engineering completely from the Yuma campus by 2016.  As it stands currently, students can enroll in the systems engineering degree program by taking two years of classes at AWC, one year at UA-Yuma and the last year at UA’s main campus in Tucson.

James Jones, director of the STEM Futures Grant, said that they are working to properly equip the local campus so that it can offer the senior year of the degree program, where students are required to complete a two-semester design project.

Two new buildings, to be located immediately next to the existing ET building on the north side of AWC’s campus, will be constructed through the grant to offer more classroom and lab space in addition to more room for large equipment needed for more hands-on learning.

The first building will be under construction beginning Oct. 1 and is expected to be completed before May. It will feature a science and testing laboratory where students will be able to learn in a classroom-like setting and then apply what they just learned in the lab area. The second building will be under construction sometime in October of 2014 and is expected to be done in September of 2016. It will feature assembly high bay areas for students to work on larger equipment.

Jones said that he is currently working with Yuma Proving Ground and TRAX International, and looking for other partners, to allow for engineering students to also participate in internships at their facilities while simultaneously participating in the degree program at AWC. He said that they plan to work in unison with companies to make sure that students have an opportunity to both work hands-on in the engineering field and also focus on their academic studies.

He said that they are also in the process of working with YPG and TRAX to purchase equipment that will prove to be useful training objects for students and prepare them to go on to engineering jobs locally. Jones said that they are also planning to develop opportunities for UA faculty to use their space to do research projects with YPG while also teaching upperdivision classes in Yuma.

“We’re hoping this will be the hub of engineering activities in Yuma,” said Jones about the engineering program on AWC’s campus.