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Southern Arkansas University to offer engineering program - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Southern Arkansas University to offer engineering program

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Magnolia, Ark. -

From advances in prosthetics to developing the next 'big thing' in electronics, engineers contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.
    
That's why Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia is excited to announce its new engineering program.
    
It's set to gear up this Fall.

"It excites me really because I love math and science and engineering is the perfect mix of them both," explained Kahlil Wade, SAU Freshman.

Wade is one of about 20 students planning to enroll next Fall in the new Bachelor of Science, Engineering Program.  

Professor Mahbub Ahmed says the general engineering program is getting a lot of support.

He says the program will begin with a focus in mechanical engineering.

"The goal of our program is to educate our students and train them, so when they graduate, they can be working in the industries around the city of Magnolia and the state of Arkansas," said Ahmed.
 
University officials say they have several South Arkansas industries that require engineers and are supporting their efforts to create the program.

Albemarle Corporation in Magnolia is one of the world's largest suppliers of bromine and bromine chemicals.

The company employees about 500 people at its two local sites.

Plant Manager Peggy Matherne says on an annual basis they hire up to 40 employees from all branches of engineering, but in the local community it's only a very few.

She says the university's degree program will benefit their industry.  

"We hire a large number of engineers and gathering engineers from the local community and retaining them is important to us long term," said Matherne.

Southern Arkansas University will have the only general engineering program south of Little Rock, but they'll still have to compete with Louisiana Tech in north Louisiana  and Texas A&M-Texarkana.

SAU President Dr. David Rankin says there's already a strong interest for this program in the Magnolia area.   

He says the new program will include new construction.

The university plans to build engineering facilities near the science center.

The price tag to construct the project is about $3 million dollars, but he says the academic breakthrough in engineering for south Arkansas is priceless.  

"It's a tremendous economic factor for our region to graduate engineers that want to stay in this region and help build the industry," said Dr. Rankin.  

Engineers can expect some of the highest starting salaries in the United States.
    
A nationwide survey last year by the National Association of Colleges and Employers had engineers holding down four of the five top pay spots.  
    
At number 5 were mechanical engineers.
    
Which Professor Ahmed said SAU will focus on initially.
    
They can expect a starting salary of almost $63,000, according to the survey.

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