Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Board of Regents have made the first $1 million investment in the Keeping Kansas Competitive engineering expansion initiative. The funding will be used by the state's professional engineering programs at Kansas State University, the University of Kansas and Wichita State University to address the need for more engineers by business and industry in the state. The funding was approved by the Kansas Legislature this past spring.
"In Kansas, the engineering profession is a key factor of the workforce and a primary driver of the state's economy," said Brownback. "We must do a better job of educating and retaining quality engineers for Kansas companies. Despite the economy, the demand for engineers remains high."
In years 2012-2021, $3.5 million per year in state funds will be provided for each engineering school, with a dollar-for-dollar match provided by the universities to ensure Kansas businesses have access to the engineering talent they need to fuel economic growth. The colleges will use this investment to implement plans to increase engineering graduates to 1,365 per year by 2021.
"We are fortunate to have great engineering programs at KU, Kansas State, and Wichita State," said Andy Tompkins, president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents. "This new partnership between the state, industry, and the universities to increase the number of engineers for Kansas is a shining example of what a clear focus on the needs of the economy and collaboration between government, industry, and higher education can accomplish."
Each participating university is required to provide the funding match from non-state sources, which may include federal, business, tuition, foundation or other grant money. The matching funds must be dedicated specifically to the engineering project. The Department of Commerce will oversee the Keeping Kansas Competitive initiative.
In addition to increasing the number of engineering graduates, the Department will actively engage with companies to link them with engineering graduates, as well as monitor the effectiveness of the initiative and, in cooperation with KBOR, provide periodic reports to the Legislature.
"The administration appreciates the work of the Kansas Legislature and the Kansas Board of Regents to come together to make this effort a reality," said Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George. "It is estimated that 80 percent of all science and technology-based occupations in Kansas stem from the engineering and information technology fields. The Keeping Kansas Competitive initiative is definitely needed to keep the state competitive as we work to expand economic growth in the state."