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WIU QC Adds Mechanical Engineering Degree

In a few years, companies hiring mechanical engineers will have more applicants. Michelle O'Neill reports this morning in Moline, Western Illinois University's President, Jack Thomas, announced it will offer a degree in Mechanical Engineering in January.


It's been eight years since the Illinois Board of Higher Education approved Western Illinois University's Engineering degree. And starting next semester in the Quad Cities, mechanical engineering will no longer be just part of that program. Students will be able to graduate with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Bill Pratt, the director of WIU's School of Engineering, says about 20 percent of engineering undergraduates in the US go into mechanical engineering. "For this region, however, that percentage is 40-50%."

Local demand for engineering is high, and growing. Pratt says 10,000 engineers work within a 50 mile radius of the Quad Cities at over 1,000 manufacturers and engineering companies.

Currently, 167 students are enrolled in Western's engineering program, with about 25 set to graduate next spring. The engineering school employs six faculty and staff and plans to add one more employee.

The new degree requires students to complete a senior design project and an internship. Pratt told the crowd of professors, administrators, and local officials that his students usually get jobs right after graduation because they've already completed internships at the companies. And he says company officials joke with him, saying, "at least they know where the bathrooms are."

Officially, Michelle's title is WVIK News Editor. She does everything there is to do in the newsroom and whatever may be needed around the radio station.
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