Creating additional paths to engineering
Posted: 11/Apr/2018

The Texas A&M engineering department has partnered with Chevron and Alamo Colleges District in the San Antonio area for a co-enrollment program which will begin in the fall of 2018.

The program was designed to fulfill the need for more engineers in the community, according to Jacqueline Perez, engineering academies and workforce development programs director. Students who qualify for acceptance into the program will be admitted to the College of Engineering at A&M, but are required to complete at least two semesters of undergraduate work with Alamo Colleges and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher in required coursework. Sponsored by Chevron, the co-enrollment program encourages aspiring engineers to pursue any of the 19 majors in the college.

Perez said students admitted to the co-enrollment program have the same opportunities as students who are at the A&M campus in College Station. This includes access to the engineering organizations A&M offers as well as university resources, such as the Texas A&M Career Center, Texas A&M Libraries, Engineering Career Fairs, the Engineering Innovation Center and study abroad opportunities.

“Once they transition to the Texas A&M campus, they will continue to have access to these programs, can pursue joining the Corps of Cadets and increased opportunities in undergraduate research, plus so much more,” Perez said. “They will be able to access the Aggie Network.”

Guadalupe Estrada, mechanical engineering junior, said she has benefited from the program. Estrada was accepted into the co-enrollment program with Houston Community College. The engineering program has partnered with other community college districts in Texas, with San Antonio being the next target community.

Upon their acceptance, students are automatically enrolled in both institutions, where they have the option to complete up to two years of core curriculum. According to Estrada, it is recommended students complete as much college credit as possible at the community college.

According to the Texas A&M Engineering website, the co-enrollment program was designed for students who wish to pursue an engineering degree, but are unable to leave their home to attend A&M due to financial circumstances. The transition from living at home to living on your own can vary for students; some find it extremely difficult, while others experience an easy change. Estrada said coming to A&M was both exciting and intimidating.

“I received encouragement by my family and friends to make the move, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be equipped for the larger class sizes or engineering courses,” Estrada said.

Estrada said she credits much of her growth to her good friend and peer who made the transition from community college to A&M a semester before she did the same.

“She had a very difficult transition, so she helped me out at each and every turn, from finding a place near the mechanical engineering building to recommending professors from her own personal experiences,” Estrada said.

Estrada said there are opportunities for students to get a head start in the engineering community. According to her, there are organizations for students to join, which help engineering students reach their full potential. Some of these organizations offer training and hands-on work experience, which Estrada said is necessary for students to develop the skills engineers need.

With resources available for students, professors and course instructors maintain high expectations for students throughout the semester, Estrada said.

“They look to challenge us and build upon our fundamentals, and they expect us to research the practicality of what we learn in class,” Estrada said. “They want us to become independent at some point in the course so that we may aspire to be lifelong learners outside of the classroom environment.”

Students who are accepted to the co-enrollment program are given the tools and opportunities for success, according to David De Sousa, engineering academies and workforce development programs assistant director.

Community is also a large factor in the success and drive of engineering students, according to De Sousa. Meeting with industry representatives, expanding knowledge on their future careers with interactive opportunities and taking basic courses with peers create the sense of community the students value.

“With our other academy partnerships, we have found that the students value the support and encouragement from their peers through this community environment,” De Sousa said.

The A&M Engineering Academy co-enrollment program aims to assist future Aggie engineers in accomplishing their academic dreams. Already having partnered with other community college districts, A&M engineering continues to expand hoping to recruit the brightest future Aggie engineers around Texas and the country, and give them the opportunity to make those dreams come true.

By: Daniella Gutierrez
The Battalion