Founded in 2020, the Engineering Academy collaboration between Houston Community College-Katy and University of Houston-Victoria at Katy allows students to dual enroll at HCC and UH while helping meet the demand for professional engineers.

Susan Thompson, HCC director at the Engineering Academy, said the collaboration was declared in the fall of 2019 and officially began in fall 2020, allowing students to take core classes at HCC while taking engineering classes at UH Katy.

Demand for engineers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics previously projected nearly 140,000 new jobs would be created in engineering from 2016-26 nationwide. Thompson said the shortage of engineers is due to engineers retiring and changes in the workforce.

“We are currently graduating less than half of the number of engineers that are projected to be needed,” Thompson said.

To combat the engineering industry’s shortage, Thompson said HCC joined a consortium of colleges and universities in 2012 to develop its Associate of Science and Engineering Science degree—which includes about 18 hours of engineering courses at HCC—and formed a partnership with Texas A&M University in 2015.

As a result, UH saw the potential of developing an academy with HCC. The UH and HCC Engineering Academies give students the opportunity to remain local with the Katy and Fraga Eastside campuses.

Student benefits, outcomes

Thompson cited the proximity of UH Cullen College of Engineering to HCC in Katy as well as the numerous businesses moving to Houston’s west side as two of the partnership’s benefits to students. Other benefits include co-enrollment, access to student services at UH and HCC, smaller class sizes and lower tuition.

HCC’s engineering enrollment has spiked since its efforts to expand the program in 2012, Thompson said.

“We started our associates degree in engineering science in 2012 with 48 declared majors; we currently have over 2,400 declared engineering majors with HCC alone,” she said.

Of those students, there are about 60 students enrolled in the HCC and UH Engineering Academy.

Jagannatha Rao, UH Cullen associate professor and associate chair of mechanical engineering, said the HCC and UH Engineering Academy provide students with “a sense of belonging” in a program with a clear path.

Rao said the best graduates are recruited into the engineering industry with entry-level salaries ranging from $75,000-$100,000.

“It’s a very attractive, rewarding academic journey and degree to pursue,” Rao said.