ECU Engineering Department Building Bridges with Local Industries
The Engineering Department at Eastern Carolina University is tailor-made for North Carolina’s Eastern Region. The department is only seven years old, but is already proving to be a valuable asset to the region and its manufacturing companies.
At one time it was more difficult for local manufacturers to attract and retain engineering talent, but ECU is developing programs to change that. After establishing the department, one of the first moves by ECU was creation of an Engineering Department Advisory Board, composed of 42 leaders from the region’s business, education and civic community.
A recent example of the committee's work was helping the department broaden its curriculum offerings to include electrical engineering. After some feedback, the university decided to add electrical engineering to the department, beginning in spring 2012, with the degree to be conferred in 2014. Currently, the department offers bachelor's degrees in engineering with four areas of concentration: biomedical, bioprocess, industrial and systems, and mechanical.
More than 300 students are enrolled in ECU's engineering programs, which are projected to grow to 700 to 750 students over the next five years. The majority of the 61 graduates of the engineering department program have remained in the state’s Eastern Region, says Dr. O. Hayden Griffin, chair of the ECU Engineering Department.
“If the engineering students come from here; they are happy to stay here,” Griffin says.
The department also has an aggressive recruitment campaign to attract graduating high school students to ECU. Griffin says a graduate program is also in the long-range planning stages.
The strong relationship between ECU and the regional community goes even deeper. Many advisory board members are often asked to speak to students on such subjects as business management, leadership and technical areas. Conversely, the engineering department is often called upon to share its expertise with the members of the manufacturing community.
All engineering students are required to take on a capstone project before graduation. Often this program is a partnership between the student, the university and a sponsoring local company in the region. Companies in the region can also draw upon the knowledge and expertise of the university faculty in the engineering department.
“It’s working here, and we are happy that our students are able to find jobs in the region,” Griffin says.