In our last post, we explored the effort being made by city government and industry to make Houston “the Smart City of the world.” We will now drill down to the state of Houston education, some of the universities and colleges in the area who will contribute educational programming to the Ion. The Ion, you may recall, is the historic Sears building in Houston’s designated innovation district that is now being revitalized.
Houston Education Now: Houston Community College
Houston Community College (HCC) expanded its engineering course offerings in 2012. It began offering two-year programs in eighteen engineering fields, including petroleum, chemical, mechanical, civil, electrical, computer, biomedical, aerospace, and ocean engineering.
In 2016, HCC opened its Engineering Center of Excellence (COE) on its Alief-Hayes campus. This center is geared toward engineering career success, creating access and opportunity for HCC students.
There are three educational pathways that the COE at HCC offers:
- Attain an Associate degree by taking individual courses, then transfer to any four-year university
- Earn an Associate of Science in Engineering Science (ASES) degree and transfer to the University of Texas at Tyler Bachelor of Engineering Program at the HCC Alief-Hayes campus
- Co-enroll in the Texas A&M Chevron Engineering Academy and HCC at the HCC Spring Branch campus, completing Junior and Senior engineering courses at TAMU College Station
HCC also opened its $15.9 million STEM building on the HCC Southeast College Felix Fraga campus in 2018. This 37,000 square foot facility features an observatory, state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, and maritime simulation equipment. Programs offered here include engineering, astronomy, and physics.
In addition, this building is the future home of the HCC Challenger Learning Center. There are over 40 of these centers across the United States, backed by a nonprofit created by the Challenger crew’s families. Their goal is to use space-themed simulated learning to further STEM education.
The HCC Challenger learning center will be a completely immersive experience, offering a Mission Control Room and Space Station where students can conduct experiments and analyze data during their mission experience. By engaging in these activities, the objective is for students to work together to solve problems that arise during their mission, learning important teamwork and communication skills.
Houston Education Now: San Jacinto College
San Jacinto College will be opening the 145,000 square foot Center for Petrochemical, Energy, and Technology on its Central Campus by the end of this year. This $60 million facility will house the school’s associate degree and certificate programs for electrical technology, non-destructive testing, process technology, and instrumentation and analyzer technology.
Jim Griffin, associate vice chancellor/senior vice president for San Jacinto College’s petrochemical training division, commented, “From the beginning stages of planning, industry has had a seat at the table for the vision, the design and the curriculum of the Center.”
“Industry folks want people to show up at their doorstep ready to go to work because training is expensive,” noted Randy Boeding of the East Harris County Manufacturers Association and president of R Boeding Group LLC.
Companies that contributed their expertise to the center include LyondellBasell, which designed the glass lab, engineers from Tellepsen who handled the glycol unit’s design, and Shell, which designed the analyzer lab.
This center is expected to lead to a 25 percent increase in admission to the programs it will house.
The South Campus of San Jacinto College also celebrated the groundbreaking for a new 74,000 square foot Engineering and Technology Center in 2018. This $27.7 million facility, which is planned to open in 2020, will house the engineering, engineering design graphics, biomedical equipment repair technician and computer information technology programs.
The Engineering and Technology Center will also feature computer labs with industry-standard software, as well as a MakerSpace featuring a 3D print shop, metal shop, and a wood shop to allow students to build their designs.
Houston Education Now: University of Houston
The University of Houston (UH) recently held its fourth annual Chevron Girls Engineering the Future STEM Day in March. The event, which encourages girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, allowed students to handle 3D-printed models of landscapes and characters from popular movies.
They also could put on an electroencephalogram (EEG) headset and control the movement and colors of light panels in the ceiling of one of the rooms with their brainwaves.
UH also connects their current female students with alumnae through their Women in Engineering program, which began in 2005.
In addition, a group of researchers from the University of Houston is expanding the St. Elmo Brady Academy, which is a group dedicated to mentoring fourth- and fifth-grade African-American and Latino boys. The Academy will be expanded to a larger group of students through a three-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
The group is tutored by the students’ fathers and mentors from the University of Houston, who demonstrate to students how compelling STEM subjects can be.
One of the program’s co-founders, Jerrod Henderson, is also the director of PROMES, or Program for Mastery of Engineering Studies. PROMES, which was created in 1974 for the recruitment, retention, and academic development of underrepresented minorities, provides UH’s Cullen College engineering students with academic advising, workshops, scholarships, and professional and personal development opportunities.
We’ve only scratched the surface of Houston’s vibrant educational programs. What do you think about what’s happening in Houston? Let us know in the comments.
In our next post, we’ll examine the managerial vs. technical tracks for engineers.