(TNS) — The University of South Florida is launching a new pre-engineering program this fall at its Sarasota-Manatee campus.
Called "USF Bridge to Engineering," the program will offer local students the option to begin their first two years of engineering studies here and to complete their degree at the university's flagship campus in Tampa.
"I am looking forward to welcoming the innovative and talented engineering students from USF Sarasota-Manatee into the College of Engineering," said Robert Bishop, dean of the USF College of Engineering. "This is a natural partnership designed to provide a highly trained engineering workforce to fill much-needed local engineering and technology jobs."
The program will be housed within the Sarasota-Manatee campus' new College of Science and Mathematics, which is opening this fall and whose dean is expected to be named this summer.
Curriculum will be crafted to align with USF's mechanical engineering degree program and students will take required undergraduate coursework including math, physics, chemistry and engineering — identical to those offered in Tampa.
"It's part of a larger effort for us over the next five years to really grow our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs across the board," USF Sarasota-Manatee Chancellor Sandra Stone said Thursday. "We met several months ago with some of the folks at the College of Engineering (in Tampa), and the two faculties have been working together to develop the curriculum and we think we're ready to go full speed in the fall."
If students maintain a 2.0 overall GPA and a 3.0 GPA in required calculus and physics classes, they will be directly admitted to the College of Engineering at the Tampa campus, school spokesman Charlie Terenzio said. Because those first two years also will include general education classes, students accepted into the program Sarasota-Manatee will be required to meet with campus advisers to schedule the correct program courses, according to the release.
Initial offerings will align with degrees in mechanical engineering, but school officials hope to expand the program to support chemical, civil, computer science, electrical and industrial engineering degree programs.
The announcement also will help USF campuses stay competitive with the University of Florida, Stone said.
The UF College of Engineering announced last month it is partnering with the State College of Florida to launch a pilot program that will begin with 10 students at SCF's Venice campus in the fall of 2017.
It is almost identical to the new USF program. Those 10 students will have the opportunity to take pre-engineering classes like physics, calculus or chemistry at State College and will be directly admitted to the UF College of Engineering after two years and earning at least a 2.5 grade point average in those courses.
That UF partnership will be part of its larger collaboration with Sarasota County through the planned Innovation Station, which leaders bill as a new outreach program to spur economic development and connect area businesses with the resources, students and faculty at the College of Engineering.
Both UF and USF's programs are a response to a clear theme from local businesses leaders: They need more qualified, local employees, Stone said.
"We all have the same goal, which is to provide the best possible education we can for students and provide for the workforce needs," she said. "The more options we can all make available to students, the better I think it is."
©2016 Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla., distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.