Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College looks to begin joint engineering program with Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College are one step closer to providing students with an opportunity to obtain a joint engineering degree. 

Originally announced in August 2014, the degree would allow students in attendance at MGCCC to earn degrees in electrical or mechanical engineering from MSU while attending regular classes on the community college's Gautier campus, according to the Sun Herald, a southern Mississippi publication. Students would be enrolled in the community college for the first two years of college, but be enrolled at the university for the final leg, while physically remaining on the gulf coast. 

Jason Keith, the interim dean of the College of Engineering at Mississippi State, presented the Mississippi Gulf Coast Business Council's Higher learning Study Committee with program details this past Tuesday.

As a result, businesses in Mississippi's Gulf Coast have been looking for ways to use the joint degree program to bolster manufacturing in the area moving forward.

"This provides a lot of opportunities for students to stay here, get degrees and take jobs on the Coast," sad Keith.

Mississippi State University plans to hire at least one faculty member and an adviser to be located at MGCCC. Students would take in-person classes on the Gautier campus, as well as remotely from other Mississippi State professors. The campus will also have a distance learning classroom for students to use.

Starting the program
MGCCC will start ordering lab equipment this June and plans to offer the first Introduction to Electrical Engineering class during the spring semester of 2016, while mechanical engineering will follow in the fall, according to WTVA, a Mississippi news station. Keith expects staff and faculty to be in place by August.

It is expected that between 100 and 150 students will be a part of the program through the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, through four years in the program. . But Mississippi State University leaders are prepared to expand the program and even offer other engineering degree options if enough interest is presented. 

According to WTVA, a 2013 demand assessment found around 2,775 available engineering jobs on the gulf coast and estimated that that number will rise to almost 3,300 by 2020. The joint degree program hopes that it will be able to train qualified candidates to fill these jobs from within the area. 

Now Keith hopes local business leaders will help support the program by spreading the word and, hopefully, recruit more students, as well as jobs, internships, scholarships and more to attract them.