Photo: Dr. Matt Roberts, dean of Academic Affairs at King; John Tickle namesake of the University of Tennessee Tickle College of Engineering; Dr. Wayne Davis, dean of the Tickle College and Alexander Whitaker, King University president. Photo by Scott Robertson
By Scott Robertson
Officials from King University hosted colleagues from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UT) March 15 to announce the formation of a new dual degree engineering program. Students who take part in the program will complete three years of studies at King and two years at UT in order to receive both a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Science and Mathematics from King and a Bachelor of Science degree from UT in biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering or industrial engineering.
“This collaboration with the University of Tennessee represents an exciting blend of disciplines and a cost-effective path for students seeking to diversify their educational background,” said Matt Roberts, Ed.D., dean of Academic Affairs at King University. “Employers are looking not only for technical accuracy in a field of study, but proficient reasoning, interpersonal skills, and problem-solving practices that are grounded in creativity. This new dual degree exemplifies our comprehensive approach to learning, and is an excellent opportunity for graduates to access a spectrum of science-focused careers.”
From UT’s perspective, the program widens the pipeline of students who may choose to continue their education into graduate school. “We have about 3,200 undergraduate students in engineering, but we also have about 1,100 graduate students,” said Dr. Wayne Davis, dean of the Tickle College of Engineering at UT. “As a Ph.D. granting college of engineering, we have grown faster in the last five years than any other college in the United States. We have 700 Ph.D. students.”
The program offers female students another opportunity to enter a lucrative career field that is currently seeking to broaden its mostly-male demographics, Roberts said. “We have a very robust ‘Women in STEM’ program here at King coordinated by Wendy Traynor, a professor of mathematics. We already have upwards of 50 women involved in that. I certainly have a mind’s eye for that group of students to be participants.”
Davis said UT has made strides in bringing the Tickle College to a more even match between male and female students, but that there was still a way to go in order to meet that goal. “For one thing, historically, there just haven’t been that many women students in colleges of engineering in this country. For many years we were running around 12-15 percent. Today it’s at 22 percent and I think our freshman program this fall will probably be even higher. That means the opportunities for women are really outstanding. The challenge for us is to convince young women in the middle and high school settings that engineering is a profession that is extremely rewarding. Women are very welcome in the field and employers are begging for more diversity, so we’re working very hard to respond to that. I think that’s something where King University will do well. They have a very balanced university that will hopefully attract young women and men to this program.”
The process of creating the program began in late 2015 as both schools looked back to a program King and UT had shared around 30 years ago. “It was only open for a small window of time then,” Roberts said. “But UT said they would put as much energy into this agreement as we did, and I took that as a promise. We met around six times with them, looking at course equivalencies and matching things up to develop the curriculum.”
The first class of students will enter the program this fall. Students must meet the general entrance requirements of both the UT Tickle College of Engineering and the department of their major, and receive recommendation from King, in order to begin their two years of study at UT.