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Monday, 25 April 2011

Kansas higher education officials pushing initiative to produce more engineers

LJ World
April 25, 2011

Despite the state’s budget woes, higher education officials are hoping that when legislators reconvene this week, they will approve a high-dollar initiative to produce more engineers.

The push to boost engineering graduates has been one of the “bright spots” of the 2011 legislative session, said Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

“We need to increase engineers by 50 to 60 percent,” she said. “At KU, we must expand our teaching facilities. We would recruit more (engineering students) if we had a place to put them.”

The Kansas Senate has approved a plan that calls for spending $4 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2012, and $7 million for each year after. The state funds would come from casino gambling revenues, and the universities — KU, Kansas State and Wichita State — would have to provide matching funds.

The bill would also allow the issuance of $195 million in bonds to build engineering facilities.
Supporters of the proposal say the demand for more engineers will increase in the next few years, especially with the announcement that Boeing will build the next generation of air refueling tankers, and with the growing bioscience and renewable energy industries.

Today, legislators, industry executives, members of the Kansas Board of Regents and representatives from KU, K-State and Wichita State are meeting at AGCO Corp. in Hesston to discuss the initiative.
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the proposal as the Legislature reconvenes.


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