March 12, 2007 — The University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science will join with the Central Virginia Community College and Lynchburg-based AREVA NP to offer a pilot program that would allow students to earn a four-year engineering degree without leaving the Lynchburg community.
According to James H. Aylor, dean of the Engineering School, the new program, PRODUCED in Virginia, will allow qualified students to earn an associate of science in engineering degree at CVCC and then continue into the second half of the U.Va. undergraduate engineering degree program to take third- and fourth-year classes selected from electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science and Science, Technology & Society disciplines.
Announcement of the program was made on Monday at a news conference in Lynchburg.
“The demand for engineers is of global proportions,” Aylor said. “We at the U.Va. Engineering School have a long history of educating students in Charlottesville and beyond who have become outstanding engineering professionals. We welcome the opportunity to expand our program through this collaborative partnership.”
James Groves, assistant dean for research and outreach in SEAS, was involved in the development of the “PRODUCED” program, which stands for “providing undergraduate connections to engineering education.” Groves said that the “success of this program will have significant, positive repercussions upon the entire mid-Atlantic region.”
Groves said that U.Va. will need to offer about 10 classes per year as part of the new initiative and that six of 10 will be offered via distance learning while the others will be offered on site at CVCC.
The pilot is currently envisioned to be a single cohort of up to 32 students who would matriculate as U.Va. students in the fall of 2009. Aylor said that while many critical program details must be discussed and finalized, an initial announcement of the program was necessary to allow CVCC to recruit students into courses for the associate of science and engineering degree.
“I have decided that our school should pursue this ‘pilot’ because I believe it puts us in a position to lead a much larger initiative that ultimately helps SEAS reach the next level of nationally recognized excellence,” Aylor said.
CVCC vice president for workforce development and continuing education Stan Shoun said that the agreement is unprecedented in the commonwealth: “This is the first opportunity undergraduate students in the state have had to earn a four-year degree in engineering without leaving the area to attend a state school.”
In order to meet the rigid standards of U.Va.’s engineering program, CVCC intends to establish an associate of science in engineering curriculum that will satisfy U.Va.’s prerequisites for third-year entry into the engineering school. CVCC will also provide bridge courses to meet U.Va.’s entrance requirements for students currently enrolled in one of its technical degree programs should they choose to advance their education through U.Va.'s Engineering Science degree program.
Dr. Darrel W. Staat, president of CVCC, said that the college’s agreement with U.Va. is a community effort to meet the high demand for engineers within Virginia’s Region 2000. Staat credited AREVA’s president and CEO Tom Christopher and Jim Hicks, the company’s vice president of business integration, for their roles in the negotiations. “The team of Mr. Christopher and Mr. Hicks helped to define the current shortages and future demands for skilled and semi-skilled craftsmen within the region. Nearly one dozen area companies are competing for engineers, creating the severe shortage,” Staat said.
The agreement with U.Va. represents an expansion of the Grow Your Own project at CVCC. Currently in its fifth year, the initiative provides a pipeline that begins in the elementary and middle schools promoting multiple career alternatives through education. Company-sponsored programs such as STEM Modules, Reading is Power, Lego League, FIRST Robotics and Summer Academies uncover the hidden talents of students early in their development.
CVCC works with secondary schools, offering early college courses to qualified students as part of their dual-enrollment program. It is an opportunity for motivated students to earn a two-year degree while simultaneously completing their high school requirements.