Letters to the Editor

Engineer progress

May 28, 2011


To the editor:

Shortly before Bernadette Gray-Little assumed her responsibilities as chancellor at the University of Kansas, she visited me at the Statehouse. At that meeting, Gray-Little, other state leaders and I discussed the need to dramatically increase the number of engineering graduates in our state, in response to an existing and growing industry demand.

Thanks to a comprehensive effort — led by Gray-Little — KU has worked tirelessly to recruit promising high school students to study engineering. Impressive scholarship opportunities have been created along the way for these talented young men and women. These efforts have succeeded to the point where the university now requires added classroom capacity to serve the growing student population in the KU School of Engineering. That is exciting progress for the university and for the state.

I am extremely pleased the Kansas Legislature passed the Kansas Engineering Initiative Act and its companion legislation; they set in motion the KU Phase II expansion plans which will directly help address the need. This legislation will have a significant, positive effect on the Kansas economy.

Leading engineering firms and a number of businesses, including Garmin, Cessna, Agco and other manufacturers, have consistently stated they would prefer to expand in Kansas but cannot unless the state starts producing more engineering graduates. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Gray-Little, KU engineering Dean Stuart Bell and others at KU; John English, dean of engineering at Kansas State University; and Zulma Toro-Ramos, dean of the Wichita State University College of Engineering, we will soon deliver on that goal.


devobrun 6 years, 11 months ago

Politicians , both elected and in the form of business leaders, dance together at the prom. Of course business wants more engineering grads.....it costs them nothing. And certainly politicians (especially republicans) want to grow the tax base. But there will be no metric applied to business regarding the effectiveness of this spent money. Will we see reports about how many new engineering grads are produced? Yes, probably we will. Will we see reports of how many of those stayed in Kansas? No Will we see how many of these new engineers are engaged in developing new products requiring new workers and therefore new jobs? Not a chance.

This is money looking for innovation. Ask any venture capitalist how well money does in creating new ideas. Senator Morris is oh so happy that they spent money. Good luck with that one senator. And where is the dean of engineering at KU on this one? The burner just got raised under his pot of water. What's he gonna do, lower the entrance requirements to the engineering school? Start a recruiting program in Shanghai? He won't find any new engineering recruits around here. It's too difficult.

grimpeur 6 years, 11 months ago

"And certainly politicians (especially republicans) want to grow the tax base."

Actually, in Kansas, evidence is quite to the contrary. Republicans seem intent on keeping the citizenry at about a 4th grade education and withdrawing support for modern initiatives, effectively throttling those that might increase the tax base.

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