UH, HCC Engineering Academy gives students opportunity to earn four-year degree in Katy

Students are required to take in-person classes for the engineering academy, which allows them the opportunity to work together and with their professors more closely.
Students are required to take in-person classes for the engineering academy, which allows them the opportunity to work together and with their professors more closely.

Students are required to take in-person classes for the engineering academy, which allows them the opportunity to work together and with their professors more closely.

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Students who are accepted to the engineering academy at UH at Katy take their core classes through the HCC-Katy campus and begin to take one engineering course in the fall and spring semesters through UH at Katy, receiving the same engineering exposure as they would on the main campus.
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The engineering academy is in its second year at the UH at Katy campus.
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New to the university, Deepa Ramachandran is joining the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department as a Senior Lecturer in the new Computer Engineering and Analytics program in Katy.
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Brian Metrovich serves as the UH College of Engineering instructional professor and director of engineering programs at UH at Katy.
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New to the University, Nathanial Wiggins is joining the Industrial Engineering Department as a Senior Lecturer in the new Systems Engineering program in Katy.
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New to the university, Mahdi Safa is joining the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department as a Senior Lecturer in the new Construction Engineering program in Katy.
A new opportunity to earn a four-year engineering degree has emerged in the Katy area thanks to a partnership between the University of Houston and Houston Community College.

Now in its second year, the UH/HCC Engineering Academy program allows students to enroll in both institutions, remain in Katy, and learn with a cohort of students in smaller class sizes.

As UH began expanding its presence on the western side of Houston, one issue to emerge was figuring out a way to offer engineering to students so they could remain in the Katy area rather than commute to the main campus, said Brian Metrovich, UH College of Engineering instructional professor and director of engineering programs at UH at Katy.

“By partnering with HCC, that meant we didn’t have to have a comprehensive university presence out here,” he said. “The idea is, HCC can do what they do best, which is offer their fundamental courses, and that allows the Cullen College of Engineering to do what we do best, which is offer engineering courses. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Students who are accepted to the engineering academy at UH at Katy take their core classes through the HCC-Katy campus and begin to take one engineering course in the fall and spring semesters through UH at Katy, receiving the same engineering exposure as they would on the main campus.

After completing their second year in the academy, students can transition to the University of Houston and major in civil, mechanical, electrical, computer or industrial engineering. Or they can also remain in Katy and finish out a four-year degree there in systems engineering, construction engineering or computer engineering and analytics.

“Students can stay all four years [in Katy] and end up with a bachelor’s degree from the Cullen College of Engineering,” Metrovich said.

Students who enroll in the engineering academy can also benefit from a financial perspective since they are splitting tuition between the two institutions and save money on room and board and commuting. The academy is also more personable because of smaller classes, with numbers between 20 and 30 instead of 60 or 70 at the main campus.

“The academy and ultimately the majors that exist if people stay in Katy is much more targeted; you get a much more personal experience,” Metrovich said.

The academy is set up to be beneficial for first-time college students who have just finished their senior year in high school or are transitioning to a university setting. It is also geared toward first generation college students who may need more support to be more successful in a university setting before they transfer to the main campus.

“These partnerships help us graduate more students and help them advance to the next level at the university,” said Susan Thompson, program director for engineering and STEM initiatives at HCC.

The decision to separate students into cohorts where they will take the same engineering classes also helps them collaborate and network. Additionally, academy students are required to attend their classes in person to allow students the opportunity to work together and with their professors more closely.

“It helps them build stronger bonds and allows them to develop more of a comprehensive and collaborative view,” Thompson said. “We know the academy model is very successful because students have a stronger network and a closer tie to their professors.”

The academy also helps with a larger need: Within the next decade there will be a need for 100,000 new engineers in the Houston region, due to changing technology and more Baby Boomers retiring.

“Our issue is we’re not graduating enough engineers to meet the future need,” Thompson said. “That’s not just at HCC or UH or A&M, it’s the U.S. as a whole. We’re all doing our part recruit great into these great programs. These students will have a huge impact in our world.”

The application process for fall 2022 admissions opens Nov. 1. For more information on the program, including characteristics of a good applicant, financial aid information and how to apply, visit https://www.egr.uh.edu/engineering-academies/hcc.

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