Overview: Staffing and Enrollment Goals:
The Chemical Engineering Program will continue its steady growth over the next five years to a total enrollment of between 75 and 80 undergraduates by the fall of 2003. The staffing level will be held relatively constant consisting of 3.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty and one full-time lab associate along with shared secretarial responsibilities. The projected enrollment figures are posted along with recent trends in the Chemical Engineering program. At present, roughly 5% (1 in 20) of the full-time undergraduates at New Mexico Tech are enrolled in Chemical Engineering.
Figure 1. Current and Expected Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Enrollment
at New Mexico Tech
The primary objective of this program is to engage and prepare students for careers which demand a command of the principles of Chemical Engineering. The aim of the curriculum is to provide a challenging educational environment in which students develop solid engineering fundamentals while honing both advanced computer and communication skills. The goal of this effort is to develop innovative and articulate graduates who can lead productive careers in their chosen fields of endeavor. All of our efforts are done in the context of serving the educational and technical resource needs of the people of the State of New Mexico.
To achieve these objectives the Chemical Engineering program has developed a fairly extensive list of assessment tools including:
1) Outside review by the ABET Engineering Accreditation Board
2) Annual outside review by the NMT Chemical Engineering Advisory Board
3) Annual Fall Alumni Survey
4) Semester Teaching and Lab Evaluations
5) Senior Design Review and Assessment
6) EIT Professional Engineering Exam
A summary of the results of these assessment tools was included in the 98-99 Program Assessment Report to the V.P. of Academic Affairs. Our active Chemical Engineering Advisory Board is guiding the faculty with a goal of establishing the best Chemical Engineering undergraduate program in the state. In its first ABET engineering accreditation board review, the ChE program met its goal and will earn a three year accreditation. From our annual Fall alumni survey, the faculty was proud to learn that the Chemical Engineering students have a 100% pass rate (8 out of 8) on the EIT Professional Engineering Exam. The faculty is also guided by the comments of New MexicoÍs industrial representatives who participate in the annual review of the Senior Design Projects.
Recruiting and Retention:
In addition to self and outside assessment mechanisms to improve the quality of the Chemical Engineering educational experience, the program will grow through active recruitment and retention efforts. The recruitment/retention goals have been summarized in Figure 1. Within 5 yrs, the program will have a steady enrollment of between 75 and 80 students in addition to the 10 graduate students (see below) employed by Chemical Engineering faculty. These enrollment levels will lead to teaching load funding on par or above with our annual departmental budget.
The number one recruiting and retention tool which the program will emphasize is employment opportunities both during and after their experience at New Mexico Tech. Detailed data on placement of our graduates is being kept and will be recorded in our recruiting information. Such an emphasis on placement will require cooperation from the administration in supporting our efforts to have national placement office in Albuquerque. This type of outreach will allow employers who normally visit UNM to also visit with talented students from New Mexico Tech.
Recruiting and Retention (ContÍd):
In regard to recruiting, each spring, the faculty members make personal calls to each NMT applicant who has noted an interest in Chemical Engineering. Additionally, in the future, the faculty will make personal visits to the larger metropolitan areas and two year schools within the state on a recruiting campaign demonstrating the unique aspects of a Chemical Engineering education at New Mexico Tech. A highlight of such visits could be a review of the arsenic treatment project involving many undergraduate Chemical Engineers and a natural gas producer in New Mexico. This past year relationships were established with the Chemistry faculty at Farmington High. In addition to these personal campaigns, the Chemical Engineering web-site will also be modified with the specific goal of a ïrecruiting tool.Í
To assist with retention, a student handbook is being written which will assist students with maneuvering through the curriculum and day-to-day college life. Additionally, the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has put forth a proposal for a mentorship program, where juniors adopt freshman for a two mentorship. The AIChE is also charged with improving the community atmosphere among ChE students. The AIChE sponsors regular semester parties, weekend trips, and fund raisers.
The Chemical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board has suggested that a major effort be cast forth to raise funds specifically for the operation and promotion of the Chemical Engineering program at New Mexico Tech. Two funds have been proposed: 1) a discrtionary account for use by the program chair and 2) an endowment fund to promote the sustained growth of the program. The former would be used for departmental student activities, supporting one-time research needs, and funding recruiting efforts. The interest from the later would be used fund Chemical Engineering scholarships and awards.
Chemical Engineering Research Activity:
The Chemical Engineering program faculty will continue to contribute to the graduate research activities on the campus although no formal graduate program exists. Each FTE faculty member will be expected to fund and advise 3 (three) graduate students through existing graduate programs. Effectively, the Chemical Engineering program will have a graduate student population of approximately 10. This level of research activity is seen as mechanism to enhance the reputation of the program, maintain the creative and scholarly research levels of the faculty, provide research opportunities of undergraduates, and to contribute to research livelihood of New Mexico Tech. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of most research, a graduate population consisting of majors outside of Chemical Engineering is possible and is seen as a means to support research without diluting resources from other programs. Currently, the two full-time Chemical Engineering faculty members successfully support six graduate students as Research Assistants from the Environmental Engineering, Materials Engineering, and Petroleum Engineering Departments.
Within the five year time frame, it would be imprudent to expect New Mexico Tech to sacrifice the additional resources (particularly faculty positions) to support a graduate program in Chemical Engineering. However, with current formula funding levels, a graduate program is the only practical means of becoming a self-sufficient or viable program. The administration must find some means to fully reward the research and graduate student contributions of the Chemical Engineering faculty so that it can establish viability without demanding additional resources for a formal graduate program.