Engineering Initiative

UTC led the effort to pass the Engineering Initiative, which has been instrumental in increasing the number and quality of engineering graduates produced by Utah’s universities to fuel the growth of the state’s nearly 7,000 technology companies (2001). 

Utah's Engineering Initative (PDF)

A request to the 2012 Legislature

The Vision

Utah’s investment in the Engineering Initiative was effective and visionary. Led over a decade of funding by
foresighted State leaders, the Engineering Initiative resulted in:

  • Accelerated growth in engineering programs
  • A dramatic increase in the number of highly qualified engineering and computer science graduates.
  • The recruitment of outstanding faculty members from across the country while other schools were cutting back
  • Additional leveraged funding from universities, industry and individuals
  • National attention for visionary state leadership

The Impact

As a result of this targeted investment, among other factors, Utah’s technology sector is rapidly expanding. There are now more than 5,700 IT companies in Utah, and the tech sector continues to expand fed both by existing companies and new companies coming to Utah seeking a supportive business climate and highly qualified workers. Examples include: Adobe, Microsoft, IM Flash, L-3, EMC, among others. Information services showed high job growth of 41% in 2010. Utah’s exports included $1.8B in computer and electronics products in 2010, and $564M in medical device products. Each new company that enters the marketplace generates a number of related companies that support a particular industry. As a result, Utah ranks second as the “Best state for business” and Salt Lake City as “Best city for job growth” by Forbes Magazine.

The Future

With such accelerated growth comes the challenge of keeping up with demands for highly qualified engineers, computer scientists, technologists and technicians. The number of current open positions exceeds 2,000. Increasingly, companies like IM Flash are being forced to recruit as much as 70% of new workers from out of state. To sustain Utah’s economic growth at the current rate, we must continue to strengthen our premier engineering programs, support technology and technician education, and strengthen collaboration and articulation among the nine statewide institutions.

Led by a panel of industry advisors, the Engineering Initiative is a model that works. Increased PR and attention to educational outreach and K-12 preparation is getting the message out and enrollments in engineering programs are strong. At present, several programs are strained to the limit in meeting student demand. Additional funding is needed now to increase capacity to meet student and industry demand. Articulation among programs needs to be strengthened so feeder schools can prepare students for transfer and students who do transfer need financial support. Applied technology schools need funding as well for programs that are meeting the needs for industry specific technicians
.  

Statewide Request $2.5M in Ongoing Funds

  • $1M -- Recruit additional faculty for programs experiencing the most significant growth in student and industry demand. Restore faculty positions eliminated by State budget cuts
  • $1M -- Strengthen articulation via remote delivery, distance learning and creative partner ships among institutions.
  • $250,000 -- Increase scholarships for engineering students, especially high achieving transfer students who would most benefit from completing their degree at the University of Utah and Utah State University.
  • $250,000 -- Increase funding for applied technology programs that are tailored to support the need for technicians in local industry.

Supporting white paper (PDF)

2009 Report to the Legislature (PDF)

2011 Engineering Survey (PDF)

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