In response to shifting national trends in engineering education, Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering has initiated the formal process of evaluating the engineering science and mechanics undergraduate degree program for possible discontinuation.

The engineering mechanics graduate program will experience no changes as a result of the undergraduate program’s evaluation. In addition, tenure-track faculty in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics are being given an opportunity to be considered to move to another department.

“The engineering science and mechanics program has been an important part of the college’s history and has made significant contributions to our academic community,” said Julia M. Ross, the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. “But I believe the careful evaluation of this undergraduate degree is in alignment with national trends for similar programs.”

Ross cited the program’s continued decline in enrollment over the last several years as a point of concern, especially in light of the college’s overall enrollment growth during that same time period.

The undergraduate engineering science and mechanics program will begin the evaluation process through university governance this fall, where it will receive close consideration from a representative body of faculty, staff, students, and administrators. The constituents of these respective committees will ultimately make a recommendation about the future of the program at Virginia Tech.  

“I’m committed to the needs and success of the college’s faculty, staff, students, and growing programs,” said Ross. “Ultimately, we want to end up in a place where these groups are thriving and happy. All faculty and staff affected by this process will have a place in other college programs with the best possible fit for skills and interests.”

If the engineering science and mechanics degree is recommended for discontinuation at the end of the evaluation process, the college would no longer accept new students into the program. However, Ross emphasized that current student cohorts would have the resources and support necessary to complete their courses of study over the next several years.

“The transition would be slow, well-thought out, and methodical,” said Ross. “And we continue to recognize the vital cross-disciplinary role the engineering mechanics program has played in achieving the college’s mission and vision. The program’s contributions in research, outreach, and graduate education are highly valued and underpin many of the college’s foundational strengths.”


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