Response to Critical Workforce Shortage

Maine universities launch new engineering program

Posted:  Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 8:30pm
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 Engineering employment has grown 25 percent over the last decade and Maine firms annually seek to fill more than 1,400 engineering vacancies that are critical to maintaining state infrastructure and employment in Maine’s engineering and manufacturing sectors, according to a new release from the University of Maine System.

In response, the university system will launch the Maine Engineering Pathways Program in  Fall 2018 to help more students prepare for a Maine-based career in engineering and to build workforce development capacity in response to a critical state shortage.  The program is designed to prepare students to graduate in four years from an accredited engineering program ready to join the Maine workforce in a field with starting annual salaries in excess of $60,000. 

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’s roads and bridges, sustaining the state’s utility infrastructure and leading Maine’s 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 existing engineers. 

“Demand for engineers at Pratt and Whitney will continue to be strong for the foreseeable future,” said Kevin McDonnell, Director of Engineering at Pratt and 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 and 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.”

 

Maine Engineering Pathways Program Launches in the Fall of 2018 

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 University of Maine at Presque Isle and then complete their engineering degree at the University of Maine or the University of Southern Maine. 

Students will also 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 closer to home or may need access to extra preparation to be ready for the academic rigors of engineering education.  It also provides students at participating institutions with a chance to explore engineering as a possible career. 

Students entering the Maine Engineering Pathways Program will immediately begin their engineering education at participating institutions taking an introductory course to explore engineering as a career and foundational courses in mathematics and science.  Following the successful completion of about 35 credits students will be able to transfer to either the University of Maine or the University of Southern Maine on track to earning a work-ready degree in engineering in just three additional years.

"There is great demand from industry for more engineers in Maine,” said Dana Humphrey, Dean of the UMaine College of Engineering, in a news release.  “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 this fact sheet, or by contacting the admission offices of the participating institutions. 

 

Building a Stronger Maine Workforce Through Investment and Partnership 

“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 UM are working with business 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 and with the private sector to meaningfully address state workforce development needs.

Recommendations will be brought to 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.

 

Maine Credentials and Maine Careers

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 be participating at the Maine Engineering Promotion Council’s annual expo hosted this year on February 24, 2018 at the University of Maine.

National Public Radio’s Marketplace recently profiled a University of Maine at Machias student whose goals and experience exemplifies the intent of the Maine Engineering Pathways Program as part of a story on how the University of Maine System is responding to the state’s workforce challenges. 

Additional information is available locally through University College at Rockland at 596-6906.