In October, Slippery Rock University gained approval from Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to begin offering bachelor’s degrees in mechanical and civil engineering starting in the Fall of 2019.
During his inaugural speech, University President Dr. William Behre talked about finding the right alloy to best serve students and promote the brand of the university as a whole. Along with emphasizing SRU’s nationally ranked safety management program, he talked about the importance of revitalizing the engineering program and expanding it for the future
“We’ve just gotten a whole new bunch of engineering programs approved, and we have to invest in that,” Behre said. “Part of that dye has already been cast. In the near term we’re going to be investing in engineering, simply because we told students that they’re going to be able to get a degree in that field here. We have to provide the infrastructure necessary for those students to succeed.”
The two new programs add to SRU’s present engineering degrees offered in petroleum & natural gas and industrial systems engineering. In addition, the university offers a cooperative program in which students complete their final two years at another institution of higher education.
Dr. Xinchao “Stanley” Wei is the director of the physics and Engineering program at Slippery Rock. Wei said that his students are excited about the new degree programs and that this should allow SRU to compete with larger institutions in the area.
“Pittsburgh has a fantastic industrial base that is conducive for careers in engineering,” Wei said. “Both Carnegie Mellon and Pitt have great engineering programs, but are so expensive. Slippery Rock can now be a low-cost alternative that potential students can turn to.”
Wei also said that he is thankful for the support he has received so far from university administration, particularly president Behre.
“Dr. Behre has been very supportive of our efforts to grow engineering programs at Slippery Rock,” Behre said. “He wants us to have a greater presence at the university and contribute to overall student success. This is just another step towards becoming a more well-rounded university.”
According to Wei, the engineering program has approximately 160 students, equating to around 40 students per class. He hopes to see a similar amount of students enrolled in each new program starting the fall.
“We’ve already received quite a few application requests,” Wei said. “Offering this program is a great thing and I’m really excited to be a part of the team that’s moving this new initiative into the future.”
Students already studying within the engineering program at Slippery Rock are excited about the prospect of having more choice within their discipline, Wei said. That sentiment is shared by engineering student Samantha Woloszyk, who enjoys the intimate experience that she is afforded at SRU.
“The new engineering programs SRU is instating in the fall are very exciting,” Woloszyk said. “SRU offers a very personal experience. My professors know my name, and I can go to them with any issues I have. Engineering is a demanding field and can be challenging to study. Having smaller classes offers a better opportunity to learn, ask questions, and get one-on-one attention, that is not always offered in a larger engineering college.”
Woloszyk and her fellow students currently enrolled in the engineering program who aren’t graduating this year, along with incoming and transfer students, will have the opportunity to be the first to major in either mechanical or civil engineering. It is this prospect in particular that has Woloszyk and students like her feeling optimistic about the program’s future at SRU.
“The new programs are a great initiative for the university,” Wolosyzk said. “I think it is wonderful that the university is expanding its programs, especially in the growing field of engineering.”