Archive for Friday, May 13, 2011

Bill would give $65 million boost to KU engineering school

May 13, 2011, 12:49 a.m. Updated May 13, 2011, 4:54 a.m.


— In a last-minute scramble, the Legislature on Friday pushed through an initiative designed to increase the number of engineering graduates in Kansas.

One bill would provide $10.5 million per year to be split equally between Kansas University, Kansas State and Wichita State. The program would start in 2013, last 10 years, and the funds would have to be matched by non-state funds from the schools.

Another bill would give KU the authority to issue $65 million in bonds to build a 100,000 square-foot classroom building for the engineering school. This would be built adjacent to a 34,600 square-foot engineering lab currently under construction.

Both measures were approved by the House and Senate and sent to Gov. Sam Brownback for his consideration.

"KU has a good problem," said state Rep. TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City. "They are bursting at the seams," in the engineering school, she said.

Some legislators weren't sold on the idea that the annual allocations were needed. "I don't think anyone has made the case that throwing money at this is going to solve the problem," said state Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona.

But House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, said, "I think the need has been demonstrated," for increasing the number of engineers educated and working in Kansas. "These are highly trained, highly educated, high paying jobs," O'Neal said.

The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of engineering graduates from 875 per year to 1,365 graduates per year by 2021.

The $10.5 million annual allocations would come from gambling revenue from state-operated casinos.

The repayment of the $65 million in bonds would come special revenue funds of KU, legislators said.

The engineering initiative was pushed by higher education and industry officials, who said they needed a steady stream of engineering graduates to stay in Kansas.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little met with legislative leaders early Thursday to discuss the engineering initiative.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

Given the other activity of this legislature, it's likely any newly trained engineers would be looking elsewhere to ply their trade once they graduate.

devobrun 6 years, 11 months ago

This has always been the case, bozo.

"The engineering initiative was pushed by higher education and industry officials." HIgher ed officials I get. Industry officials I don't get. What industry in Kansas is hiring engineers? To whom do the additional 490 engineers a year go? Besides California.

LogicMan 6 years, 11 months ago

I don't know, but for the last few years I'd guess Texas and not bankrupt California.

Brian Laird 6 years, 11 months ago

Actually, the Texas and California budget deficits are pretty similar in size.

Brian Laird 6 years, 11 months ago

That is a good question. Another question is.. From where are the new students going to come? KU engineering is already not that selective, which is part of the reason that their retention rates are not that high. For the foreseeable future, increasing the number of students would only be possible through a lowering of entrance standards, which would increase the number of students, but not necessarily the number of graduates. In the long run, it is possible to increase the quality and number of graduates if KU Engineering could convince top students who now go elsewhere to come to KU, but that will be tough to accomplish.

Cody Ochs 6 years, 11 months ago

Engineering students are created in high school, junior high, middle school, junior middle, and whatever schools we recently created to save money. By the time these students reach the university level, their lack of strong math and science backgrounds will hinder their potential to be good engineers. Invest the money earlier and it will yield greater reward.

Cody Ochs 6 years, 11 months ago

Here's your conspiracy theory: More engineers at university level when your primary and secondary education lack the resources to create the basic "raw materials" means more out of state students coming in, which means more tuition. It also means more foreign engineering students. A quick Google found a nice little "soundbite" : "In all, the influx of foreign students reduced the wage growth of science and engineering PhDs by about 40 percent. " ( Koch brothers need cheaper skilled labor.

The preceding presentation was created for entertainment purposes only, and was not rigorously researched in any way.

LogicMan 6 years, 11 months ago

Uh ... you need to pay for a study that you want done, not the firm (KU) that you are hiring.

jpgs 6 years, 11 months ago

You clearly don't understand the process. We write proposals to get grants and contracts to do research, we don't fund others. You need to write an SBIR proposal or get VC money to prove your ideas.

PJ Karasek 6 years, 11 months ago

They want more graduating engineers, but as it is right now a large number of graduating engineers can't get jobs. It all sounds nice in principle to have more engineers to move Kansas ahead in science & technology, but if there aren't any jobs after school, a few more pieces of paper that say 'diploma' mean absolutely nothing and only lead to a higher percentage of unemployed engineering graduates.

guesswho 6 years, 11 months ago

Amazing to cut public schools and concentrate on higher ed. I am not trying to pit K-12 against colleges/universities, but maybe more should be invested in preparing students for college engineering courses to increase the number of engineering graduates.

And, I thought they were against building new buildings on campus because that increases the need for maintenance, utilities, housekeeping, etc.

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