UMS launches engineering pathway to meet workforce need

The University of Maine System will launch the Maine Engineering Pathways Program in fall 2018 to help more students prepare for a Maine-based engineering career and to build workforce development capacity in response to a critical state shortage.

The program is designed so students can graduate in four years from an accredited engineering program ready to join the Maine workforce in fields with annual starting salaries of $60,000 and higher.

Engineering employment has grown 25 percent over the last decade and Maine firms annually seek to fill more than 1,400 engineering vacancies.  These positions are critical to maintaining the safety of Maine roads and bridges, sustaining the state’s utility infrastructure and leading its manufacturing sectors.

Maine’s public universities are the state’s only pathway to an engineering degree and are working to double engineering education capacity to help meet a statewide workforce need of more than 3,000 new engineers over the next decade.

The projected workforce shortage is driven by growing industry demand and an anticipated wave of retirements among engineers.

“Demand for engineers at Pratt & Whitney will continue to be strong for the foreseeable future,” said Kevin McDonnell, director of engineering at Pratt & Whitney North Berwick Aero Systems.

“We have our biggest backlog of new engine deliveries since World War II, and many new engine programs under development. The University of Maine System has a proven track record of providing us top-notch engineers. Pratt & Whitney will continue to look to the Maine University System to provide us with the best and brightest engineers as we develop and build the next generation of gas turbine engines.”

The 1 + 3 Maine Engineering Pathways Program creates an opportunity for students to begin the first year of their engineering education at the Bangor and Augusta campuses of the University of Maine at Augusta, the University of Maine at Farmington, the University of Maine at Machias, or the University of Maine at Presque Isle, then complete their engineering degree at the University of Maine or the University of Southern Maine.

Students also will be able to access the program at University College locations in Bath/Brunswick, East Millinocket, Ellsworth, Houlton, Norway/South Paris, Rockland, Rumford and Saco with a potential requirement for limited travel to a campus for lab work.

The program is intended to serve students who want to begin their academic careers at an institution close to home or who may need access to extra preparation to be ready for the academic rigors of an engineering education. It also provides students at participating institutions with a chance to explore engineering as a career.

Students entering the Maine Engineering Pathways Program will immediately begin their engineering education at participating institutions with an introductory course to explore engineering as a career as well as foundational courses in mathematics and science.

Following the successful completion of about 35 credits, students will be able to transfer to either UMaine or USM on track to earn a work-ready degree in engineering in three additional years.

“There is great demand from industry for more engineers in Maine,” said Dana Humphrey, dean of the College of Engineering at UMaine. “The Maine Engineering Pathways Program will help to address that need by providing a new way for Maine students to start their engineering studies.”

Interested students and parents can learn more by visiting the Maine Engineering Pathways Program website, downloading a fact sheet, or by contacting admission offices of the participating institutions.

“The University of Southern Maine is pleased to be a leader in the System’s multi-pronged approach to addressing the current and future workforce needs of the state of Maine,” said Glenn Cummings, president of the University of Southern Maine.

“Our successful articulation agreement with Southern Maine Community College has expanded and widened pathways into engineering for students from throughout the region and our collaboration with our public university partners will put more students from throughout the state on a path to a Maine engineering career.”

In response to a growing engineering shortage in the state, USM and UMaine are working with businesses and industry to develop a bold, multi-year plan to significantly increase the number of job-ready engineers the University of Maine System graduates.

The collaborative planning effort is a model for how campuses can work together, as well as with the private sector, to meaningfully address state workforce development needs.

Recommendations will be brought to University of Maine System trustees at an upcoming meeting and will build upon the growth in engineering enrollment at both campuses, the state’s investment in a new engineering education center at UMaine, and UMaine and USM articulation agreements with Southern Maine Community College that create new pathways to UMaine and USM engineering degrees.

UMaine and USM work closely with Maine employers to prepare students for opportunities in the Maine engineering workforce and to align curriculum to employer needs. This collaboration includes experiential learning, guest lectures by Maine industry leaders, internships, job fairs, and assistance with recruiting.

More than 150 employers will participate in engineering job fairs at UMaine or USM this academic year or participate at the Maine Engineering Promotion Council’s annual expo on Feb. 24 at UMaine.

National Public Radio’s Marketplace recently profiled a student at the University of Maine at Machias whose goals and experiences exemplify the intent of the Maine Engineering Pathways Program.

Contact: Dan Demeritt, 207.441.6962