Community Colleges Step Up With Texas A&M to Combat Engineer Shortage

Community college students have access to engineering majors through Texas A&M University as part of an expanding partnership program.
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Published on July 13, 2023
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  • Texas A&M University and Tyler Junior College announced plans to open a joint engineering academy starting this fall.
  • Tyler Junior College will become the ninth community college to offer engineering degrees through Texas A&M.
  • The program is currently accepting applications for the fall through July 31, according to a press release.
  • The program features 22 majors and a mix of classes from Texas A&M and Tyler Junior College, according to a release.

Community colleges are often key workforce training partners amid nationwide shortages — and some students in Texas will soon have a new option to launch their careers as engineers at a two-year university.

Texas A&M University and Tyler Junior College announced plans to open a joint engineering academy starting this fall, according to a June press release. Tyler Junior College students who take part in the programs will have 22 majors to choose from through Texas A&M.

The program serves a dual purpose: providing opportunities for students and combatting a stark shortage of engineers in Texas. The need for engineers in the workforce is projected to be 51,000 in Texas by 2028, according to the release.

"Texas A&M approached the College and laid out an innovative approach to this seamless pathway between our institutions — and in a high-demand field," Tyler Junior College President and CEO Juan E. Mejia said in the release. "This partnership will create even more success stories for our hard-working, deserving students, right here at home."

The program will make engineering careers more accessible for community college students, Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said in the release.

"Starting their college career closer to home like this allows them to save a lot of money while earning a degree from one of the best engineering schools in the country," Sharp said.

Texas A&M President M. Katherine Banks underscored the program's financial accessibility for students. The program features a mix of core classes taught through Tyler Junior College and engineering classes provided through Texas A&M.

"Not only does this program provide invaluable educational opportunities, but it also offers substantial financial benefits for our students," Banks said in the release. "The program truly embodies innovation, affordability and excellence in engineering education."

The program is currently accepting applications for the fall through July 31, according to the release.

Tyler Junior College isn't the only place where community college students can pursue engineering degrees through Texas A&M. The university also recently partnered with South Texas College to launch the academies, which makes nine community colleges taking part in the partnerships.

Community Colleges as Workforce Drivers

Engineering isn't the only key workforce area where community colleges are stepping up as key partners.

Austin Community College in Texas plans to launch a cybersecurity bachelor's degree program in fall 2023, aiming to address both a local and nationwide surge in demand for cybersecurity workers. The cybersecurity field has 44% growth projected in Central Texas over the next 10 years.

That cybersecurity focus reflects a broader nationwide push to recruit in-demand professionals from community colleges. Microsoft previously announced an effort to recruit 250,000 people into the cybersecurity field by 2025 through community colleges.

Community colleges often serve as both anchor institutions in their communities and key access points to higher education. And their deep ties to local businesses and employers mean they are often keyed into workforce demands.

That pivotal community role is reflected in a recent Biden administration workforce roadmap, which heavily features community colleges as a way to connect workers with high-demand, good-paying jobs.

"At the heart of this effort is ensuring the full range of our education and training systems, including middle and high schools, community colleges, community organizations, unions, and more, work in lockstep with employers to prepare and place millions of students and workers from all backgrounds in sustainable quality jobs across critical sectors — including clean energy, semiconductor manufacturing, construction, healthcare, information technology, education and childcare, and biotechnology," the White House roadmap release reads.