POTTSTOWN PA – Montgomery County Community College officials don’t need to read tea leaves or peer into a crystal ball to know the future of education in local school districts like Pottsgrove, Spring-Ford and Pottstown. Where they’ve said they’re heading – putting a greater emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM courses – is in part where the college is headed too.
MCCC this morning (Monday, April 29, 2013) announced it has revised its long-standing two-year Engineering Associate of Science degree program to better mesh with four-year degree menus like that of John Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering, with which it has a partnership.
“The benefit for students is that they receive a high-quality education at a substantial savings, and then can transfer to an … accredited program at a four-year institution,” said Dr. David Brookstein, the college’s new STEM dean. He’s got more than 19 years of engineering education experience, and insights into how the best programs work, Director of Communications Alana Mauger said.
[box size="large" style="rounded"]
Representatives of KCBA Architects, standing, will be available tonight to answer questions from the public and school board about $30 million of proposed high school renovations
Pottsgrove proposes to include specially equipped STEM classrooms and laboratories as part of a high school renovation estimated to cost up to $30 million. It will hold a public meeting on renovation plans tonight (Monday) at 7:30 p.m. in its high school cafeteria. Its first STEM classes will start next September.[/box]
Pottsgrove, Spring-Ford and Pottstown have joined districts across the country in their eagerness to establish or expand STEM education. Why has STEM become so important? It’s where the money is, Mauger explained.
Engineering majors lead the list of college degrees that pay the highest salaries for new graduates today, according to her citation of a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The starting salary for mechanical engineers, Mauger noted, is about $64,000.
Some STEM-related jobs are going unfilled, Mauger added, because employers perceive a “lack of qualified candidates for high-tech jobs.” To compete in a global economy, “the United States needs to increase its talent pool” in STEM college grads to keep up with increasingly tech-savvy developing nations, she said.
That’s one of the reasons behind the college’s engineering AS degree changes. They now ensure a seamless transfer of credits to four-year engineering programs accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology, Mauger said.
The revisions split the two-year program into distinct halves. Students spend their first year taking core courses in engineering, science and calculus, and focus on either mechanical or electrical study in their second year. It also includes an “Introduction to Engineering” course to capture students’ interest and encourage their persistence, according to Mauger.
The changes were prompted in a review by Brookstein, Assistant Professor of Engineering H. Thomas Tucker, Associate Professor of Engineering William Brownlowe, and an outside consultant.
Commission-accredited bachelor’s degree programs abound regionally at Temple, Widener and Philadelphia universities, and elsewhere, like Johns Hopkins. Graduates from commission-accredited programs are better positioned for “enhanced opportunities in employment, licensing, graduate education and global mobility,” Mauger claimed.
Related (to Pottsgrove High reconstruction):
Top graphic from Google Images