Kayla Hunter, a self-proclaimed change agent, wants to become an engineer so she can tackle some of the biggest challenges facing society.
“With everything that I will learn, I hope to use my knowledge to solve worldwide problems such as global warming or even hunger in a third world country,” said Hunter, a mechanical engineering major taking classes at TCC South. “My ultimate goal is to one day open my own engineering firm and make a significant impact.”
Engineering is one of the fastest growing career fields in the U.S. It’s also one of the most in-demand professions, which generally correlates to higher earnings throughout all career stages.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, engineers have a median annual wage of $100,640, with employment from 2020 to 2030 projected to grow 6%—meaning nearly 146,000 new engineering jobs during that period.
Tarrant County is experiencing significant economic development and job growth in the sectors of health care, aerospace, construction, manufacturing/logistics and IT, and each field employs engineers.
To meet this need, TCC is developing industry and education partnerships that help attract and retain students who are interested in engineering and related studies. Earlier this year, the College announced that it is teaming with Texas A&M University in a unique partnership to offer a new pathway for area students interested in earning a degree from Texas A&M’s highly ranked engineering program.
“Texas A&M’s Engineering Academies were developed with two goals in mind, to meet the increasing demand of industry engineers across the state of Texas and provide accessible educational opportunities for students from underrepresented communities within the field,” said TCC South President Daniel Lufkin. “Tarrant County College is excited to partner with Texas A&M to bring the Engineering Academy to our community.”
Consistently ranked as a national leader, Texas A&M’s College of Engineering enrolled more than 22,000 students in fall 2021.
Each year, the Engineering Academy is expected to provide an opportunity for up to 100 students to be concurrently enrolled at TCC and Texas A&M.
Students will take courses from the TCC core curriculum along with an engineering course taught by Texas A&M faculty at South Campus. TCC has identified dedicated classroom spaces for the Engineering Academy, and Texas A&M will outfit the lab space with the same equipment being used by its other students and faculty—giving TCC students the same experience as those enrolled at the campus in College Station. After a year in the academy, these students will be eligible to fully transition to the university to pursue one of 22 engineering majors.
This marks the academy’s first semester at TCC. Not only will the academy help increase the number of bright young students entering engineering but also the diversity of those students.
“Now more than ever, engineers are needed to create solutions for complex problems,” said LaTasha Starr, associate professor of practice for Texas A&M’s Engineering Academies. “Many of our future change agents within STEM will come from underrepresented communities, and I take pride in nurturing thought leaders from diverse backgrounds through the lens of academia and industry.”
Student Kayla Hunter wants to start an engineering company one day. “Although I won’t be the first Black female to own a firm, it would still be an honor to advance my field,” she shared. “My goal isn’t just to get my degree but also make the impact of a lifetime.” She sees the Engineering Academy as the right vehicle to achieve that goal.
“Who wouldn’t want to be part of the No. 1 engineering program in the country from day one? Many people struggle to get into any program, let alone a top program such as Texas A&M,” said Hunter. “I am excited about the bonds I’ll make with fellow students, teachers and others and the many things I’ll learn along the way.”
Students can take part in activities and organizations at both institutions.
“We are extremely excited about interest from students in the Fort Worth area for our newest Engineering Academy,” said Cindy Lawley, assistant vice chancellor for academic and outreach programs and assistant dean for Engineering Academies.
“This program provides students with the opportunity to take engineering courses from Texas A&M University professors while taking core curriculum classes taught by the outstanding faculty at Tarrant County College. They can stay close to home and reduce the financial cost of obtaining a .world-class engineering education,” continued Lawley.
Lufkin agreed, “The first cohort of students to participate in the Engineering Academy at TCC will have the chance to change the trajectory of their lives through a top-ranked engineering degree at Texas A&M, and will hopefully bring their professional talents, training, and bright futures back to the Tarrant County workforce upon their graduation.”
By starting at the Texas A&M Engineering Academy at TCC, students can save an estimated $4,200 in tuition and fees. College leaders believe the academy can also raise awareness of related offerings across the District.
“We hope the Engineering Academy will create more interest in the STEM programs available at TCC,” Lufkin shared. “We have 20 phenomenal degree programs at TCC that will allow our students to pursue a career with a livable wage in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Learn more about the Texas A&M Engineering Academy at TCC.