A new proposal is being planned by the University of Georgia (UGA) to duplicate the Regent’s Engineering Transfer Program (RETP) that VSU currently has with Georgia Tech (GT) and Mercer University, giving VSU engineering studies students an additional option of where they can finish their degree.
Currently, VSU students are not able to receive a bachelor’s degree in engineering without transferring to a four-year engineering institution. Their choices are to enroll in the RETP or to select the dual-degree program at VSU where they can obtain their bachelor’s degree in a science field, like physics, math or chemistry. After roughly two years in the RETP program, they can transfer to Georgia Tech, where they can then get their bachelor’s degree in engineering. In the dual-degree program, the students transfer after about three years (or taking about 90 credit hours at VSU) to GT and the remaining science courses that they have left at VSU will be taken at Tech. These credits can then transfer to VSU, so students can also acquire their bachelor’s degree in a science major from VSU.
Right now, there are more than 150 students enrolled in the engineering studies program at VSU and the number of students has been increasing every year.
Around 25 RETP students transfer each year to other engineering universities, such as GT. According to Dr. Hojjatie, coordinator of the Engineering Studies program, most students transfer to GT because of VSU’s formal agreement with Tech. However, some students end up transferring to other engineering schools in Georgia or even out of state.
Dr. Barry Hojjatie is anxious to see the intended program by UGA implemented.
“Although Georgia Tech has a very progressive engineering program that is recognized nationally and internationally, I like the idea that our students have more choices to transfer to different engineering schools in Georgia,” Dr. Hojjatie said. “There are many students that have family or employment limitations that may keep them from transferring to GT.
Therefore, the idea of having additional options in engineering available for students throughout Georgia is really good.”
Right now, UGA only offers students a bachelor’s degree in agricultural and biological engineering. They have increased their emphasis in these two majors and have enabled students to focus on other specialized areas such as electrical and civil engineering. At this time, UGA does not have traditional engineering programs such as mechanical, electrical or civil engineering, which will be added if the proposed program is successful. Currently, GT is the only school in Georgia that offers these degrees. Georgia Southern and Sothern Poly only offer engineering technology degrees which are more applied programs.
However, the planned program by UGA is not definite.
“The proposed program by UGA must be approved by the Board of Regents first,” Dr. Hojjatie said. “It costs a lot of money to establish an engineering program. They have to study and evaluate it to determine if such a program is cost effective.”
According to Dr. Hojjatie, some VSU engineering students ultimately transfer to UGA to get their bachelor’s degree in either agricultural or biological engineering, but as a regular transfer student. This is because VSU does not have a formal transfer agreement with UGA as they do with GT.
Dr. Hojjatie admits that completing the dual-degree program at VSU and transferring to GT to receive an engineering degree and another degree in science from VSU is not an easy process.
“It’s very challenging and requires lots of planning,” Dr. Hojjatie said. “It’s difficult because students have to be very efficient in selection of their courses and plan their courses well in advance.”
Dr. Hojjatie said that he would like students at VSU to have the option of getting their bachelor’s degree in engineering without leaving Valdosta and hope to have such a program at VSU in the next five years.
“VSU is a regional university that is more than 120 miles away from any public university that offers an engineering or engineering technology degree in Georgia. It is very important that we really focus on this, so that students from southern Georgia aren’t so limited in their choices. We hope that in the future, we can help these students by offering engineering degrees without them having to leave Valdosta.”
Dr. Hojjatie has some advice for those students wishing to transfer to any four-year engineering school.
“Engineering is a rewarding profession and there is always a need for skilled engineers,” Dr. Hojjatie said. “The mistake that many of our engineering studies students make is that they postpone taking calculus and physics courses because they think the courses are hard and drop them, or they don’t even take them. Because of this, it sometimes takes the students more than two years to transfer to engineering schools, like GT. My advice to those students who like engineering and who want to be successful in getting their engineering degree is to start with calculus and physics during their freshman year, even as early as high school.”