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Regents Hear Update on Need for Engineers in Georgia

Atlanta — July 8, 1998

Keeping a commitment to monitor continuously the need for additional engineering graduates – particularly in the southern part of the state – the Board of Regents today (July 8) heard from University System Chancellor Stephen R. Portch regarding “cyclical changes” impacting supply and demand in the engineering profession.

The chancellor presented highlights of “Engineering Education in Georgia: An Updated Needs Assessment of Supply and Demand,” a report produced by the University System of Georgia’s Office of Planning and Policy Analysis utilizing state, regional and national data sources. The new study updates an initial analysis of engineering education needs conducted for the Board of Regents in October 1995 by the consulting firm MGT of America. That report was adopted by the regents at their November 1995 meeting, and the chancellor was charged by the regents with regularly monitoring need.

Four major points are drawn in the report regarding the existing supply and demand for engineers, reflecting the potential for future unmet need:

  • With the exception of computer engineering, and to a lesser extent electrical engineering, engineering supply and demand is relatively balanced in Georgia.
  • However, if Georgia’s economy continues to grow, especially with high-end jobs, present enrollment and production plans may not be sufficient in all engineering fields to meet the state’s long-term needs.
  • Without significant improvements in the math and science preparation of K-12 students in Georgia, there will be continued difficulty in finding sufficient students both interested in and prepared to succeed in quality engineering programs.
  • Engineering supply and demand is cyclical. Therefore, given the time necessary to produce graduates, responses have to be proactive yet sensitive to cyclical reverses in the trends.

According to Portch, several factors are contributing to the identified change in some of the supply/demand trends noted in the study. “It’s no secret that there has been a real explosion in the need for computer engineers, and the production of jobs in the information technology field is having a significant impact,” he stated. “We’ve also learned that the employment rate of engineers was at an all-time high in 1995, and that has bottomed out. In addition, Georgia has had a post-Olympic boom that surpassed the best projections, which also is driving the need for competent engineers.”

Portch was charged by the regents at today’s meeting to “identify some creative solutions to address any impending supply demand and demand concerns that will maintain the University System’s commitment to responsiveness on this issue.” He said he will present recommendations to the board at their September meeting, “with a leaning toward creative solutions that maximize the state’s existing resources.”

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