By Lindsey Piercy
Given advancements in technology, society is calling upon engineers to solve the world’s most complex problems.
That call is being answered thanks to a unique partnership between the College of Engineering at the University of Kentucky (UK) and the Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC). Students can now earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Engineering Technology.
The new Department of Engineering Technology — made possible in large part to a $2.25 million gift from Toyota — offers two four-year undergraduate degrees in lean systems engineering technology and computer engineering technology.
Graduates of the new pathways will be trained in the latest technologies and equipped with the practical skills necessary for thriving in advanced technology industries.
"The College of Engineering Department of Technology will be an integral part of our university's efforts to advance the Commonwealth through ingenuity and collaboration,” President Eli Capilouto said. “Because of Toyota’s generosity and commitment to the state we serve, we can forge new paths toward discovery and empower our community to achieve more in partnership with BCTC.”
“We’re excited to partner with Toyota and UK to provide this opportunity to our students,” Bluegrass Community and Technical College Provost Greg Feeney said. “Recruiting students of all backgrounds will enrich our programs and the industry and empower students to establish careers that will better their lives and communities.”
Bachelor of Science in Lean Systems Engineering Technology (LST)
The LST program will prepare students to thrive in a highly competitive global marketplace and provide the skills necessary to improve quality output, streamline processes and reduce waste.
“The demand for increasingly advanced skills in manufacturing requires expanding the engineering pipeline,” Nelson Akafuah, inaugural chair of the Department of Engineering Technology, said. “In the ever-evolving world of manufacturing — where manufacturers must connect, predict and adapt to transition from developing products to engineering experiences — a unique skill set in continuous improvement and creative problem-solving is needed. This new degree path will equip students with those necessary skills.”
The curriculum will include classroom instruction and lab experiences, which will build upon UK Engineering’s more than 25-year partnership with Toyota. LST students will benefit from professional instructors, some of whom are former Toyota executives.
“This exciting educational partnership will go a long way to ensuring more Kentucky students are prepared to take on the challenges of an advanced global marketplace,” Tom Buffetta, vice president of production engineering at Toyota, said. “We are thrilled to continue our long-term partnerships with both UK College of Engineering and Bluegrass Community and Technical College in this way and look forward to helping equip more students with the skills and knowledge necessary to have a positive impact on society.”
LST students spend their first years earning their AAS degree in integrated engineering technology at BCTC’s Georgetown campus, before working toward their bachelor’s degree at UK’s main campus.
Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering Technology (CPT)
The CPT program will provide in-depth knowledge of hardware and software design, development and maintenance. Students will learn industry-standard approaches to application software development and state-of-the-art problem-solving techniques for developing application code and firmware, including networking and web operations.
The curriculum will include classroom instruction and lab experiences where students will gain a strong background in cutting-edge development with programming languages currently used in industry.
Additionally, those in the program will gain an architectural understanding of computer systems from low-level gate design to high-end microprocessors and current bus standards.
“Complementary technologies in data analytics, machine learning, human-machine interaction, intelligent robots, interconnected supply chain and the ability to transmit digital instructions to the physical world — that can run smart, cost-efficient and automated plants — requires a new set of computing skills,” Akafuah explained. “This degree path will uniquely prepare students to become leaders in this advancing industry.”
CPT students spend their first years earning their AAS degree in computer engineering technology at BCTC’s Newtown campus or online, before working toward their bachelor’s degree at UK’s main campus.
Toyota’s Investment to Diversify Engineering Workforce
The department is made possible, in large part, to a $2.25 million gift from one of the world’s largest automakers.
The funds will be used toward laboratory enhancement, as well as the establishment of a Toyota Engineering Technology Distinguished Professorship.
In April, Toyota announced a $1.7 million investment to increase opportunities for underrepresented students and assist them in earning engineering degrees. The gift will be used to establish and support the Toyota Engineering Technology Diversity Scholarship Fund, which will provide annual scholarships for undergraduate students.
“Building a stronger Kentucky will require deliberate and sustainable efforts to provide equal access to quality education. This program will give more people a chance to build great careers in fields like engineering,” Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), said. “Toyota is committed to providing resources, time and knowledge to help build stronger communities in which we operate. We’re thankful for great education partners that have the same mission.”
Preference will be given to students whose ethnic, racial, gender or background would enhance the diversity of their institution, as long as these preferences are narrowly tailored to the university’s achievement of its interest in obtaining the educational benefits of a diverse student body. However, every student who is enrolled in the program, is a Kentucky resident and has unmet financial need will have an opportunity to compete for the scholarship.
Beginning Fall 2021, 35 students over a five-year period will be selected to receive full-tuition scholarships. In addition to the preferences, participation in the program and Kentucky residency status, recipients will be determined after a review of the applicants’ qualifications, such as academic merit, extracurricular and volunteer activities, and professional goals.
For additional information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com.
To learn more about the Department of Engineering Technology, you can visit the UK Engineering website.