Engineering program grows
The Cullen College of Engineering is bringing in 16 percent more undergraduate students this fall.
Undergraduate enrollment increased by 330 students in the 2011-2012 academic year, bringing the total to 2,399. Every class enrolled more students than the previous fall.
Freshman enrollment increased to 603 students — up 25 percent from last year. Total enrollment for the college increased 10 percent to a total of 3,286 students. Master’s enrollment decreased in 2011; but enrollment of doctoral and post-baccalaureates students increased by nine and 28 percent, respectively.
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs David Shattuck said that the spike in freshman enrollment was due in large part to UH’s recently acquired status as a Tier One university and the introduction of the undergraduate petroleum engineering program.
“We’re only just beginning and students keep coming in as we move forward,” said Shattuck.
Five out of the six departments in the college experienced increases in enrollment of at least 28 percent, with mechanical engineering standing as the most popular program among undergraduates.
Shattuck said the state of the engineering industry is another possible reason for the increase in enrollment.
“Engineering in general is considered to be a hot field, because industry is hiring engineers,” said Shattuck. “Companies offering money and jobs to graduates is going to be viewed as something worth looking at, and we’re riding that wave right now.”
The college has been pushing to increase its admission standards, but there is a program in place for freshmen who don’t quite meet those requirements. The college used to have an undeclared program that contained about 50 students every semester. Shattuck said the college has revamped the program this semester, providing an opportunity for freshman to prove themselves. Currently 100 students are enrolled in the program.
“Our theory is, how students do in courses in engineering is the best indicator of how well they’ll do,” said Shattuck.
“It’s a program for students to show they can do what it takes to be in engineering.”
Shattuck said class size is an issue. The increase in enrollment means there will be more students, and class size and availability will be affected.
Shattuck said they will have to find solutions by finding ways to teach larger classes.
“When the class size grows, that has an incremental effect on how effective I can be when teaching class,” said Shattuck.
“Having more high quality students is a good problem; and we are happy to deal with it, but it is a problem.”