Starting next fall, students interested in engineering can choose to study one of the new four-year engineering technology majors at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford that will prepare them for exciting careers in the region and beyond.
The new majors, mechanical engineering technology and energy engineering technology, will focus on hands-on, practical applications and prepare students for the same jobs as those with engineering degrees since they will take similar classes in math and engineering.
Dr. Matt Kropf, associate professor of engineering, designed the new majors, which he says involve more hands-on learning and application than traditional engineering degrees. Graduates from engineering technology programs compete for the same jobs as graduates from an engineering degree, including designing and fabricating, managing automated machinery, overseeing industrial processes or developing new ones.
Students in both new majors will be exposed to a spectrum of mathematics, engineering and science broad enough for them to enter a variety of engineering fields.
Hands-on learning will take place in a brand new, 40,000-square-foot building devoted to science, technology and engineering. The new building, which is set to open in Fall 2022, will feature unique spaces to spark students’ creativity.
Engineering lab spaces include:
- A circuit lab with bench space for soldering, generators and analog/digital trainer desktop kits, spectrum analyzer, and oscilloscopes.
- A measurements lab where students will be able to work with sensors and automation in a space containing industrial automation and robotic systems, microprocessor prototyping hardware, ultrasonic flaw detectors, and more.
- A machine shop with computer-controlled machines including a plasma cutter, vertical milling machines, precision lathes and variable speed drill presses.
- Strength and materials lab, where students can test, measure, and destroy their creations by pulling, pushing, and hitting them with a compression/tension tester and a dynamic fatigue tester as well as testers for impact, hardness, and torque.
- A fluid dynamics lab with a wind tunnel, fluid processing and automation system, Rankine cycler and more.
- And a maker space, featuring 3-D printing and scanning for rapid prototyping to be shared with the information technology program.
Students in the energy engineering technology program will also take advantage of Pitt-Bradford’s location in the heart of two of the largest shale basins in the United States, as well as at the center of plentiful wood and biomass resources.
In addition to shared engineering technology courses, these students will add knowledge about Geographic Information Systems and automation and sensors that are used throughout the energy industry – from solar arrays and windmills to drill rigs and pipelines. They will be able to specialize in conventional energy, renewable energy or energy efficiency.
“We are very excited to offer our students these two new, innovative programs, which will prepare them well for many engineering careers,” said Rick Esch, Pitt-Bradford’s interim president, “and to create the specialized spaces in a new building that will challenge and inspire them.”
The long-term employment outlook for both programs is bright. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 7 percent increase in the number of mechanical engineers between 2020 and 2030, even as more Baby Boomers retire.
The U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy reports that wind turbine technician is the fastest growing occupation in the country and that other fast-growing green technology jobs are solar installer, clean car engineer, sustainable builder and other sustainable professionals.
To teach the new classes required for both majors, Pitt-Bradford plans to hire three new engineering faculty in the next year with more to come as programs grow.
The new majors are part of a suite of options Pitt-Bradford has for studying the environment and energy. Other programs include a two-year associate of science in petroleum technology; bachelor’s degrees in environmental science, environmental studies, and energy science and technology; and minors in biology, chemistry, environmental science and geology.