Overland Park Representatives from Kansas universities, the Kansas Legislature and Kansas engineering firms gathered Tuesday morning to tout the benefits of a bill that would provide funding to allow universities to train more engineers.
The plan calls for spending $4 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2012, and $7 million for each year after, using funds from gaming revenues. Universities would provide matching funds.
Some highlights of the forum:
• More engineering construction on campus: At Kansas University, state funds would be used to construct a new addition to the ongoing construction near Learned Hall, said Stuart Bell, dean of KU’s engineering school.
The existing building project — funded by a grant from the National Institute for Standards and Technology and private donations — will house several research projects, but won’t have dedicated classroom space, Bell said.
The new funding would be applied to a second phase that would construct a 101,000-square-foot building for additional classroom and lab space.
• Sparking more money: Bell said he was planning for even more revenue from tuition from new students and increased donations.
Tuition dollars would likely be spent on new faculty and staff, and donations would be used for new scholarships and professorships, Bell said..
“We see the state’s part of this as the first leveraging piece,” he said.
• Increasing numbers: Kansas Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said he would like to see the bill result in a 60 percent increase in the number of engineers trained in Kansas.
That would mean a move from about 900 graduates to 1,500 statewide, he said.
• No distribution decisions: Bell said he didn’t yet know just how much money KU would be getting from the proposal, and that distribution mechanisms would be worked out later. It possibly could be done through the Kansas Board of Regents, he said.
• Working together: Andy Tompkins, Regents president and CEO, praised the three engineering schools in the state — at KU, Kansas State and Wichita State — for working together.
“They’re going to always be competitive,” Tompkins said, but they were able to work with legislators to accomplish more together than they would have separately.