Island University to add Civil, Industrial Engineering Programs

By Darrell J. Pehr | Published: October 25, 2019

Island University to add Civil, Industrial Engineering Programs

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s engineering program will expand to now offer civil and industrial engineering bachelor’s degrees after receiving final approval on Oct. 24, from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The board’s unanimous affirming vote broadens the Island University’s engineering program to five undergraduate majors. Accredited mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering technology degree programs are in place, and 483 degrees have been awarded since the program’s inception.

“We are thankful to the members of the Coordinating Board for their support of these programs, which will greatly enhance our ability to meet the need for engineers in the Coastal Bend and beyond,” said Dr. Kelly M. Quintanilla, President and CEO of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “These programs will offer new opportunities for our students to achieve degrees and start rewarding and meaningful careers in disciplines that can make a tremendous impact on our communities.”

Quintanilla said the accomplishment was truly a team effort.

“Our legislative delegation worked diligently to secure $2.3 million for these programs in the last legislative session,” Quintanilla said. “The City of Corpus Christi pledged $2 million through the Corpus Christi Business and Job Development Corporation for the purchase of laboratory equipment and retrofitting existing labs for civil and industrial engineering. This will be a tremendous help to us in getting the programs up and running quickly, and we are so grateful for the continued support from our legislators and our community.”

Dr. David Bridges, Chair of the A&M-Corpus Christi Department of Engineering, said civil and industrial engineering will formally begin in fall 2020, although the department took proactive steps to prepare for the addition of the new bachelor’s degree programs.

“A few years ago, we hired two faculty with backgrounds in civil engineering and two faculty with backgrounds in industrial engineering to assist in the development of the new programs,” Bridges said. “They wrote the syllabi for all of the new courses in the programs.”

The new degree programs reflect the need for more engineers and will support the continuing growth of industries in the region.

“An immense amount of construction is taking place in the region, which is creating a significant demand for civil engineers,” Bridges said. “Much of this construction is industrial, and the factories and other facilities that will be built will require industrial engineering input in their design and operation.”

The new programs align with the University’s commitment to closing educational gaps as a Hispanic-Serving and Minority-Serving Institution, according to a document prepared for the Coordinating Board. The document noted that A&M-Corpus Christi, as a result of geographic location and prominence, is uniquely poised to serve the nation by preparing qualified engineers who are predominantly Hispanic and/or first-generation university graduates. It is expected that these engineering professionals will serve as role models to school children in their communities to also aspire to STEM-oriented careers.

“In addition to core curricula of civil engineering and industrial engineering, the proposed engineering programs at the Island University will offer certificate programs in coastal resiliency with civil engineering perspectives, and in autonomous mobility with industrial engineering perspectives,” said Dr. L.D. Chen, Director of the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at A&M-Corpus Christi. “These are unique opportunities for students enrolled in the civil or industrial engineering program. The students will be able to earn certificate program credentials while working toward their bachelor’s degrees.”

The new degree offerings will strengthen the engineering program at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, which was recently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best of its type in Texas.