A fifth reason is that engineering strengthens UL’s science programs. Engineering students necessarily take advanced courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and geology, so more engineering students require more faculty in those disciplines. Then because of the crossover between those disciplines and engineering, typically a fair number of engineering students find that they have a greater passion for one of those, and change majors.  This increases the number of majors and minors in those programs, which grows those faculty numbers even more. From there, the sciences enhance the University in many of the same ways that engineering does, through better students and more research funding.

The sixth reason is the interaction between engineering and colleges other than the sciences. Architecture, computer science, computer animation, graphic arts, and technology all depend on engineering.  Business integrates strongly with engineering: both have to solve problems within price and other strategic limitations, and much of business is the management of engineering processes, including mass production, computing, automation, packaging, transportation, and physical infrastructure.

The humanities are rich for interaction with engineering, in ways that are often underexploited. Engineers point out that since their designs need to solve social problems, it is important to have a wide diversity of viewpoints in engineering, and the letters provide that. A large swath of human history-- including pubic history, a UL emphasis-- is the history of engineering problems.

Nursing and medicine engage strongly with engineering. There is the obvious example of bioengineering, but I have often pointed out that engineering has saved many more lives than medicine has, because clean water and proper sewerage are much more important to human health than are the antibiotics, surgeries, and other medical responses necessary in the absence of those amenities. Similarly, the engineering contributions of roads, buildings, machines, fuels, and others greatly reduce or eliminate the need for humans to undertake dangerous and ruinous physical tasks, and elevate the general level of prosperity and health.

Education is a discipline that has not frequently worked much with engineering, but it should: engineering concepts are excellent vehicles for conveying a host of mathematical ad scientific concepts, and with a little effort could do so even more.

A seventh reason are donations. On average, engineering alumni are among the wealthiest coming out of the University, so investing in engineering today will produce enhanced donations in the future. But they will also produce more donations today: as our large population of engineering alumni become aware of the growing excellence in UL engineering, they will be more willing to contribute right away.

An eighth, summarizing reason that was touched on in the first point, is that all of the preceding will increase our standings in various rankings of higher education. Those in turn will then synergistically boost everything in the foregoing. It would be interesting to see rating and ranking data on campuses with an engineering emphasis vs. more general institutions, but certainly universities famous for engineering seem to be over-represented at the top of the USN&WR rankings: MIT, Cal Tech, Illinois, Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, Cornell, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Army, Navy, Air Force, and many others.

The last reason we should focus our resources on engineering is the critical role the discipline plays in the local and state economy. Engineers not only garner salaries that are well above average, fill critical mid-management positions, and design many of the solutions that increase productivity and profitability in all businesses, they also comprise a great deal of the entrepreneurs in any economy. So this last reason has a doubled impact: engineering helps our public University fulfil our mission, but a prominent engineering program also makes a very strong argument to our civic and government leaders as to why they need to be aggressive promoters of UL. That, in turn, will strengthen our political support, which will then increase funding for the entire University.

Joe Abraham is a local physician, and president and founder of the Acadiana Educational Endowment, which publishes ultoday.com, CajunFun.com, and booksXYZ.com.  To read more of his writing, click on his name, above.


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