The EvoLLLution | Partnering to Expand Access and Strengthen Reputation
By partnering with a major university and employer on the Engineering Academy, colleges can create unprecedented access to STEM programming for traditionally underserved students while strengthening their own reputation in the process.

The Texas A&M–Chevron Engineering Academy at El Centro College is a new, innovative program that offers students interested in pursuing an engineering degree at Texas A&M University (TAMU) the opportunity to co-enroll at El Centro College and TAMU’s Dwight Look College of Engineering (Look College).

Beginning this fall, Engineering Academy students will have the opportunity to complete TAMU engineering courses during their two years at El Centro College in downtown Dallas, Texas. At the end of two years—upon successful completion of the engineering courses at El Centro College—students can apply for entry to any of the sixteen degree-granting majors in the Look College. They would then go to College Station to complete the remainder of their bachelor’s degree coursework on the TAMU main campus.

Engineers are designers who solve real-world problems for the betterment of society as a whole. Here, the Engineering Academy at El Centro College is a collaborative institutional and industry effort to increase college access, affordability, and graduate prospective engineers prepared to tackle an array of complicated problems. Specifically, the Engineering Academy at El Centro College is a novel co-enrollment program whereby students matriculate into both El Centro College as well as the Look College. As a result, they’re eligible to enroll into specific engineering coursework in preparation for subsequent transition to College Station. Unlike other engineering programs within the Dallas-Fort Worth area, this is the only program with a clearly defined relationship and engineering pathway intent to educate and graduate more Aggie engineers.

How Students Enroll in the Engineering Academy

Application is relatively straightforward and easy. First, new freshmen and eligible continuing college students apply directly to El Centro College. Qualified applicants receive a secondary application specific to the Look College. Admitted students will be co-enrolled at El Centro College and in the Look College at TAMU.  Following successful admission into the Engineering Academy, students enroll into one TAMU engineering course per semester—these courses are held on the downtown El Centro College campus and taught by Look College faculty. During the two-year co-enrollment program period, students complete two to three credit hours from TAMU each term while concurrently earning core curriculum courses (math, science, history, government, English, etc.) through El Centro College. Engineering coursework includes traditional introductory engineering coursework as well as foundational pathway courses for an array of prospective majors offered by the Look College.

To be admitted into the Engineering Academy, we have created a pathway so interested students may apply directly to El Centro College via the Apply Texas application or through El Centro College’s internal application link. El Centro College will identify students who have expressed interest in the program and are pre-calculus or calculus ready and provide students access to the Engineering Academy at El Centro College secondary admission application. Students must complete the Texas A&M Engineering Academy secondary admission application and then the TAMU office of admissions will review the applications and make offers of admission to the Engineering Academy at El Centro College.

Given the competitive nature of TAMU’s top-ranked engineering program—coupled with their renowned faculty and some of the best-equipped teaching and researching facilities—it is easy to see the advantage the Texas A&M–Chevron Engineering Academy at El Centro College offers. A strong application into a degree-granting major at TAMU’s Dwight Look College of Engineering is extremely important. Successful and timely completion of the Engineering Academy at El Centro College requires that participants have a minimum cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 2.5 on at least 50 hours of transferable work from El Centro College and a minimum CGPA of 2.5 on at least 10 credit hours of engineering-specific courses from TAMU offered on El Centro’s campus. Highly qualified students can apply for early entry into an engineering degree-granting major upon meeting the CGPA and minimum course requirements. Following completion of the Engineering Academy at El Centro College, students gain an academic advantage by participating in the program and successfully completing all program requirements.

How Students Benefit from Engineering Academy Enrollment

Engineering Academy benefits abound. Accepted students earn TAMU engineering course credits while remaining close to home. This proximity to home is critical for the student demographic El Centro serves, as many of these learners are place-bound and come from already under-represented groups. In essence, the Engineering Academy allows them to minimize their time away from home while also increasing access to high-quality, highly selective STEM degree programming for populations that may otherwise be left behind.

Through the Engineering Academy, students have access to tailored academic advising from both El Centro College and TAMU’s Look College, and receive guaranteed full admission to TAMU upon successful completion of the two-year program (as laid out above). Highly qualified and successful students have the option to apply for transition to College Station early. Furthermore, students enjoy small class sizes at El Centro College during the period of co-enrollment and, while completing their B.S. degrees at TAMU, engineering class sizes under 100. Because accepted applicants are Look College students right from Day 1, matriculated students are eligible to participate in student organizations, engineering career days and even meet Chevron recruiters.

Academy students will pay tuition and fees at the El Centro rate for their courses registered here, and then will pay tuition and fees at the TAMU rate for their registered Look College courses. Therefore, admitted in-district Dallas County applicants will save a significant amount of money relative to a non-academy engineering pathway.

How El Centro Benefits from the Engineering Academy Partnership

El Centro College also benefits from hosting the Texas A&M–Chevron Engineering Academy. One of five community colleges across Texas selected for this program, El Centro is the only college in the Dallas-Fort Worth area offering students access to this opportunity. That will bring to our doors a number of highly qualified students who may not have otherwise considered enrolling at El Centro.

Second, many students who enroll in two-year college with an eye to transferring to a four-year degree program become concerned that their credits won’t transfer over, but the Engineering Academy paves the way for qualified students a clear 2+2 pathway to a degree.

Finally, TAMU brings with it an extremely reputable and well-renowned brand that’s known the world over. Through our partnership with Texas A&M University and the Look College, El Centro receives a level of prestige to its brand. We also become tied to the quality associated with TAMU, which makes clear the rigor that has always been a part of our programming.

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Readers Comments

Rochelle Underwood 2016/02/03 at 10:01 am

I’m so glad to see this trend really taking it off. This is exactly how a college-university partnership should work. Both institutions benefit, and students coming from either direction benefit from the set pathway and the shared resources. I hope we see a lot more of these in the future.

Jack Carter 2016/02/03 at 1:20 pm

The employer partnership really is what solidifies this. Not only is there a strong pathway created between the educational institutions, but there’s also a strong connection between the education phase of an engineering career and the first-job phase. I think partnerships like this inspire confidence in students that they are being valued and cared for every step of the way, and they can focus on their learning.

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