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Engineering graduate programs named most improved


Two engineering graduate programs named dubbed as some of “most improved” by U.S. News & World Report. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

A recent ranking of graduate programs posted by the U.S. News & World Report listed UH’s mechanical and industrial engineering programs as being some of the most improved nationwide. 

The rankings, which are updated annually, saw the mechanical engineering program improve from No. 83 in the country to No. 69, and the industrial program from No. 54 to No. 42. 

This improvement can be attributed to a multitude of different steps taken by the department to improve the culture, marketing and academic standards of the University’s various engineering programs, said industrial engineering professor and chair Gino Lim.

“We’ve been building up to this for a long time,” Lim said. “As the program has continued to grow, we’ve been able to hire more talented and qualified staff, this allowed us to raise standards of admission, which has, surprisingly, led to more applicants.” 

But beyond adjusting academic and hiring standards, Lim said a big part of the school’s success has been a product of fostering an environment of camaraderie and understanding between both students and faculty. 

“This is by no means an easy program,” Lim said. “But it’s incredibly important to maintain an open dialogue in any academic setting. So, when students come to me and tell me their failing, my response isn’t to tell them to just ‘do better’ or ‘study harder,’ it’s ‘ok well let’s see where you’re struggling and try and get you back on track.’” 

This shift in culture is corroborated on the student side of things as well. Poria Dorali, a PhD candidate in UH’s industrial engineering program who has been at the University for almost eight years said he’s noticed a stark improvement in the program throughout his time as a student. 

“Engineering programs tend to have this view as being extremely cutthroat and competitive and while to a certain extent that’s true, a lot has been done to alleviate that side of things and to refocus on the goal of the program, which is to make good engineers, not punish people,” Dorali said.

Dorali, who is also an officer in several of the college’s extracurricular clubs, said fostering an environment of togetherness and team building inside and outside of the classroom has been crucial to the program’s improvement. 

“I think a part of what brings us as students together is the difficulty of the program,” Dorali said. “You know we’re all here, working together, all dealing with the same stress, it’s the type of thing that really unites us in a way you wouldn’t expect.”

Though UH is still primarily known for its petroleum engineering program, Lim said he wants to change that in the near future. 

“I can easily see UH becoming one of the top tier engineering schools in the country,” Lim said. “As long as we keep hiring good staff, keep contributing to the community though research projects, and keep developing and expanding our programs, we could easily see UH become a top ten school for all types of engineering, not just petroleum.” 

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