It’s the work of the students that makes the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia competitive.
Senior Eric Refour has a job offer from Ford Motor Company, and the College of Engineering will be able to call Refour one of its own.
In an email to The Red & Black, Scott Williams, the executive director of the UGA Career Center, said the most recent graduate survey found 70 percent of the college’s respondents said they had a job secured after graduation. This is comparable to Georgia Tech’s Center for Career Discovery and Development’s exit survey, which said 70 percent of its respondents said they also had a job, said Andrea Comsa, the interim director for the Center for Career Discovery and Development.
Refour had his choice of schools to transfer to after he changed his major to engineering. But he chose to stay at UGA because of the opportunities.
“Originally my plan was just do a year and a half year and transfer over [to Tech] but, I don’t know, I was blessed with numerous opportunities here,” Refour said.
The computer systems engineering major from Decatur is a student ambassador for the college. He said the ambassadors are doing their part to help promote the engineering program.
“Every week we have different students coming in from all over the Southeast and we even have some coming from different parts of the country just to tour and figure out what we have to offer as far as engineering majors,” Refour said. “So I feel like we are doing a great job as far as reaching out.”
Don Leo, dean of the College of Engineering and Mickey Montevideo, the public relations coordinator, agreed that student organizations play their own role in promoting and growing the school by going to national conventions. The school has 14 student organizations.
Each of the college's eight undergraduate degrees, Leo said, has a student chapter of its professional organization, such as American Society of Civil Engineers and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
These organizations, Refour said, promote involvement in the college.
“Our student clubs here are actually doing a really good job as far as making a name for themselves and attracting students to come and participate with the college of engineering and see what we have to offer,” he said.
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After offering classes in 2012, UGA’s College of Engineering is paving the path to become a more prominent school of its kind, allowing UGA’s engineering students to compete with other engineering students including those at Georgia Tech.
Leo said students need to be ready for life after college, and the engineering college works to make meaningful relationships with businesses to help secure future positions for all its graduates.
“It’s making sure that that set of stakeholders, you know, companies that are going to hire our students and work with our faculty on research projects and work with our students on design projects, making sure they have awareness of our program and have a buy into our program,” he said.
Leo said one of the initiatives the school takes to promote the school is going around the state and meeting with students, parents and businesses.
“Mickey [Montevideo] and I and some others flew down to Savannah, for example, late last year, met with businesses down there, met with some alumni, met with some parents of current students,” Leo said. “Out of that came some partnerships where we’re talking about possibly working with some folks down there on an engineering academy in the Savannah area.”
Having a good industrial advisory board, Leo said, also serves as a sort of promotion. He said the school’s board includes representatives from Siemens and Georgia Power among other companies.
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Tom Jackson, the vice president for public affairs, said UGA has offered degrees in engineering for more than 100 years through the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and it’s a point of pride for UGA to have a separate school for engineering.
“In a general sense, the University of Georgia for years had to explain why it had neither medicine nor engineering, which is really unusual for a flagship university.” Jackson said. “So it’s a real point of pride that we have developed this College of Engineering.”
Leo said the college has about 1,000 students — about 400 more than last year.
And after almost two years as a college, UGA’s engineering students are also competing with Georgia Tech in not only jobs but going to graduate school as well.
Williams said 16 percent of UGA engineering students are going to attend graduate school after graduation, and Comsa said 24 percent of Georgia Tech students are going to graduate school.
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People are taking notice of UGA’s significant growth in its engineering programs.
Montevideo said the school is getting the attention of parents of prospective students by holding different activities and competitions.
“FIRST LEGO League is a state competition,” he said. “When we had the opportunity to host a portion of the state competition here at the University, we jumped all over it.”
Montevideo said the college had 350 middle schoolers come to UGA for the competition. The other 32 teams competed at Georgia Tech.
Leo said LEGO League teaches students about robotics and the design process.
He said the competition gave 500 to 600 people a chance to look at the school and what it has to offer.
Leo and his team are doing a lot to let prospective students know that UGA has an engineering program. "
"I think there was a pent-up demand for an engineering program here because we are creating a different type of program,” he said.
A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Mickey Montevideo. The Red & Black regrets the error.