By Tina Hilding, College of Engineering & Architecture
EVERETT, Wash. – The first 23 students in Washington State University’s mechanical engineering program at WSU North Puget Sound Everett received their diplomas last week at a graduation dinner and induction ceremony into the Order of the Engineer, a professional engineering association.
The program, which allows students to complete a WSU mechanical engineering degree while taking classes on the Everett Community College campus, came about as part of a state initiative to increase the number of engineering and computer science students and graduates. The program addresses two major concerns for the state by providing more affordable and accessible higher education options for students and more engineers who are critically needed for the state’s economy.
“We are so proud of the efforts of our first WSU graduates,’’ said Paul Pitre, dean of WSU North Puget Sound Everett. “Because they were able to get their engineering degrees right here in Everett, they can make a real difference to our local industries and positively contribute to the workforce in this region.’’
Interest in the WSU program has been growing rapidly. Last year, 50 students applied for 30 openings. This year there were 72 applicants. Five of the graduating seniors have been hired as mechanical engineers by local or regional employers.
Earlier this year, the Washington Legislature appropriated $10 million for the design of a new facility on the campus. The legislature has also provided support to increase the number of faculty and students in engineering and computer science.
WSU has been given management and leadership responsibilities at the Everett campus with a focus on programs in science, technology, engineering and math. A program in electrical engineering will also get under way this fall.
The mechanical engineering program includes a combination of Everett- and Pullman-based faculty with courses originating both from Everett and the Pullman campus. Students follow WSU’s semester system and pay WSU tuition rates.
Several classes are broadcast via video from Pullman, and students are required to take some laboratory classes on the Pullman campus during the summers. Upon graduation, they will have fulfilled WSU mechanical engineering degree requirements.
There is a similar mechanical engineering program at Olympic College in Bremerton.
About 100 friends and family members attended the graduation event.
The induction of graduating seniors into the Order of the Engineer is a tradition that was brought from the Pullman campus. The evening began with an address to the graduates by Mayor Ray Stephanson, a strong advocate for higher education in the North Puget Sound region.
John Pricco, retired vice president of Boeing and a WSU alumnus, was the keynote speaker. The WSU Board of Regents was represented by Chairwoman Connie Niva.
Michael Kessler, director of the mechanical and materials engineering program in Pullman, and Marvin Pitts, professor and program coordinator of the WSU Bremerton mechanical engineering program, inducted the WSU Everett faculty, Everett Community College engineering faculty and WSU alumni.
Students were then inducted by Brad Thompson, clinical professor and program coordinator for WSU Everett, and Xiaopeng Bi, clinical associate professor at WSU Everett.
Paul Pitre, dean, WSU North Puget Sound, Everett, 425-259-8941, email@example.com
Tina Hilding, communications coordinator, WSU College of Engineering & Architecture, 509-335-5095, firstname.lastname@example.org