Engineering Technology program at The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Engineering Technology program at The University of Alabama in Huntsville

The Engineering Technology (ET) program at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, previously housed within the College of Professional Studies, has now found its place within the College of Science following the dissolution of the former college. With a clear objective to grow, the program is actively pursuing a 20% increase in student enrollment per semester.

In light of the program's beginnings, Dr. Alisa Henrie, ET Program Director, highlights the unique circumstances that marked its inception. Back in Spring 2020, amidst the unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic, the inaugural cohort of students embarked on their journey within the concentration. The program found its place as a concentration in the Bachelor of Professional Studies degree, nestled within the College of Professional Studies.

This degree primarily aimed to cater to non-traditional students, particularly those who had commenced but still needed to complete a degree at UAH, with a considerable portion having backgrounds in engineering. The program offers evening and online courses catering to working individuals.

Given UAH's robust engineering focus, many of these students embarked on their academic journey in the engineering field. The ET program emerged as a well-suited solution, addressing their specific needs and incorporating their existing coursework. The program facilitated efficient degree completion and resonated strongly with Huntsville's industry demands. The interest in supporting this population prompted serious consideration for elevating the concentration to a bachelor's degree.

The successful transition from concentration to an independent program was marked by approvals to launch the Bachelor of Science degree in Fall 2022. Concurrently, the program pursues accreditation through ABET, a globally recognized accreditation organization for applied and natural sciences, computing, engineering, and engineering technology. Another ABET-accredited program in the College of Science is Computer Science.

Furthermore, plans to introduce a minor in engineering technology are underway. This minor will offer STEM students access to unique courses, including STEM communications, which imparts practical communication skills essential for industry contexts. Across the state of Alabama, various institutions offer engineering technology programs. While similarities exist, UAH's program distinguishes itself through industry alignment and a focus on non-traditional students.

Spring 2023 marked the graduation of the first ET students at the College of Science. The program's emphasis on practical application and industry alignment equips graduates with expertise relevant to excel in dynamic fields. Potential career trajectories for ET graduates encompass roles such as CAD Design Engineers, Manufacturing Specialists, Quality Engineers, Technical Sales Representatives, and Test Engineers.

A common question Dr. Henrie always gets asked is: What is the difference between engineering and engineering technology? "While sharing curricular resemblances, engineering technology emphasizes practical application more than theoretical aspects. This emphasis on hands-on work is a defining characteristic of the Engineering Technology program", she says.

COS's acquisition and transformation of the Engineering Technology program reflect the adaptability to student and industry needs. Dr. Alisa Henrie's leadership has steered the program's evolution from a concentration to a thriving Bachelor of Science degree. With alignment with industry demands, dedication to practical learning, and support for non-traditional students, the program will leave a lasting footprint on UAH's academic landscape.