Engineering Growth

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Graduate student Max Ovett cuts a concrete core sample to test for permeability in the College of Engineering’s Structural Engineering Testing Hub, or STRENGTH, Lab.

Five years after its founding, the UGA College of Engineering has exceeded enrollment projections and dramatically expanded the scope and impact of the University’s research enterprise.

The history of engineering education at the nation’s first state-chartered university dates back to the mid-1800s. Engineering programs at UGA were initially focused on civil and agricultural engineering, but the high demand for engineers in a state with a rapidly growing economy and population led to the addition of degree programs in areas such as computer systems and mechanical engineering. The College of Engineering was established in 2012, and it offers eight bachelor’s degree programs, five master’s degree programs and two doctoral degree programs.

Enrollment in the College of Engineering has more than doubled in the past three years alone and now stands at nearly 2,000 students. More than 90 percent of the college’s undergraduate students are Georgia residents, and alumni of the college can be found in organizations large and small across the state and beyond.

The College of Engineering reflects UGA’s historical and abiding commitment to serving the state of Georgia, and partnerships with industry are thriving. The college’s most recent career and internship event attracted more than 100 employers, and more than 20 companies — including AT&T, GE and Lockheed Martin — have joined a corporate partnership program through which they provide financial support that enhances the quality of education our engineering students receive. The availability of a highly skilled and well-educated workforce is one of the key factors that influences corporate decisions to relocate or expand in Georgia, and UGA-educated engineers have distinguished themselves as problem-solvers who excel in the technical aspects of their profession but also have outstanding communication and teamwork skills.

The well-rounded nature of our engineering graduates is no accident—it’s a consequence of the college’s curriculum, which makes the most of the university’s liberal arts environment and service mission. Rather than giving students theoretical projects for their senior capstone course, many capstone courses in College of Engineering have students address community needs across Georgia through the Archway Partnership, one of the University’s Public Service and Outreach units. Some of the real-world projects our students have tackled include working with Gulfstream Aerospace to determine the forces exerted on aircraft during emergency water landings, creating a site development plan for an industrial park in Grady County, designing a facility for the production of neural cells used in the treatment of spinal cord injuries, and developing a device that enables two-way text messaging without the use of cell phone towers or satellites.

The research our College of Engineering faculty members conduct is also advancing the state of Georgia while making a broader, global impact. Externally funded engineering research at UGA has climbed by 250 percent over the past five years, and some notable projects include participation in a public-private partnership to revolutionize the fabrics industry, the development of a robotic system of all-terrain rovers and unmanned aerial drones to improve crop production, and work to enhance the efficiency and security of smart grid energy systems.

The leadership of founding Dean Don Leo has been exemplary, and the college’s faculty, staff and students are bringing distinction to the University of Georgia. In its first five years as a college, the UGA College of Engineering has achieved an impressive record of success in instruction, outreach and research. With an ambitious agenda to create challenging learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students and a faculty striving to conduct research with world-changing impacts, I am confident that coming years will bring continued growth and excellence.