GVSU engineering, computing report record enrollment

Engineering students and faculty gather in the biomedical engineering lab in Kennedy Hall of Engineering; engineering enrollment has nearly doubled in 10 years.
Engineering students and faculty gather in the biomedical engineering lab in Kennedy Hall of Engineering; engineering enrollment has nearly doubled in 10 years.
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A record number of students are enrolling in and graduating from engineering and computing programs at Grand Valley State University. 

The Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing (PCEC) reported that the number of students majoring in engineering programs has nearly doubled in the last 10 years, and enrollment in computing and informations systems programs has increased by 46 percent since 2006. 

Paul Plotkowski, dean of the college, said the growth is attributed to employer demand and student interest, which is a result of more attention being paid to STEM disciplines in K-12 schools. 

“The message that these disciplines are making a difference in the world is being heard,” Plotkowski said. “Ten to 15 years ago, you probably never heard of work like biomedical engineering. Today, it’s a very understood thing and a good example of how engineering changes the world.” 

Plotkowski said the No. 1 piece of feedback PCEC receives from students is the benefits of cooperative education, a program that requires students to complete three semesters of paid intern work for an employer that is most often located in West Michigan. 

“We’re a very teaching-oriented university, and the internship and co-op program gets our students ready for life and careers, not just theory,” he said. “Most students are offered full-time jobs before they graduate, many times at companies where they completed their co-op experience. The majority of our graduates are working and living in the Grand Rapids area and throughout West Michigan.” 

Chris Plouff, interim director of the School of Engineering, said students receive real-world experience while pursuing their degree. “The internship and co-op work not only provide a great resume builder, it enhances the learning experience by making the theoretical content relevant and tangible, allowing for deeper and more meaningful learning,” he said.

Grand Valley provides opportunities for K-12 students to learn about STEM careers through camps and workshops. Learn more at www.gvsu.edu/pcec

The engineering program was established in the mid-1980s with 135 students. All five engineering programs at Grand Valley are accredited by the U.S. Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), a national system that assesses the quality of engineering programs in the U.S. 

For more information, contact Paul Plotkowski at (616) 331-6260 or plotkowp@gvsu.edu, and Chris Plouff at (616) 331-6017 or plouffc@gvsu.edu.

Grand Valley was featured in a video about successful retention efforts in engineering programs. It was created by the American Society of Engineering Education.