New Program Brings Engineering Degree Within Reach For More San Antonians

Feb 1, 2018

Texas A&M University is opening an engineering academy at one of the Alamo Colleges this fall, allowing San Antonio students to save money while getting a degree at one of the top engineering schools in the country.

The program lets students enroll at Texas A&M as freshmen, but complete their first two years at Northeast Lakeview College.

“The problem we’re trying to solve is there’s a lot of really bright kids that may live in San Antonio, that may live in the Rio Grande Valley, that may live in Houston, that don’t have the wherewithal even with scholarship help to go to College Station and attend Texas A&M — although they could get in,” said John Sharp, chancellor of Texas A&M University System.

Texas A&M recently opened similar engineering academies at five other community colleges in the state with the help of a $5 million grant from Chevron.

Mechanical engineering major July Alejandra Romero Garcia credits the academy at Houston Community College with enabling her to pursue her degree.

“I wouldn’t have been able to (go to College Station) because of the cost of starting as a freshman,” Romero Garcia said. “It wouldn’t have been possible because in addition to the tuition and fees there’s the housing.”

She said the academy cut her cost of tuition in half, while letting her work and live at home for two years.

That’s just the kind of opportunity Alamo College Chancellor Bruce Leslie is expecting for students in San Antonio.

Northeast Lakeview College
Credit Camille Phillips / Texas Public Radio

  “This is a unique model in the sense that they’re sharing with us the faculty who will be teaching the engineering course, helping students stay home,” Leslie said. “A lot of San Antonians, their families want their children to stay home, or they’re working families; they need to stay home.”

Leslie estimated that engineering academy students will save about $20,000 in tuition, room and board by finishing their first two years at Northeast Lakeview.

Jackie Perez, the director of the engineering academies program at Texas A&M, said students who want to enroll in the academy will first need to apply through Northeast Lakeview.

“Right now it’s a two step application process. The students first are pre-qualified by Alamo Colleges based on their math readiness. Once they’re pre-qualified, then they receive instructions and they submit the Texas A&M University application,” Perez said.

Applications will be accepted starting March 1, and there’s space for about a hundred students.

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille