Formal agreement allows eligible Shelton State graduates to transfer to UWA for bachelor of science in engineering technology

Formal agreement allows eligible Shelton State graduates to transfer to UWA for bachelor of science in engineering technology

Sixty miles separate the University of West Alabama from Shelton State Community College’s campus, but a new agreement between those institutions is opening a pathway for engineering students who want to further their education in Livingston.

A formal articulation agreement signed in September will allow eligible Shelton State graduates with an associate in applied science degree in industrial electronics technology to transfer to UWA and seek a bachelor of science degree in engineering technology.

Shelton State and UWA signing Fall 2021
Leaders from Shelton State Community College and the University of West Alabama signed an agreement to help students at Shelton State earning an associate’s degree in industrial technology to seamlessly transfer and complete a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology at UWA.

For Dr. Donnie Cobb , chair of UWA’s Department of Computer Information Systems and Technology, the compact scratches an itch he’s long felt: how to guide interested Shelton State graduates working at the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International plant in Vance into UWA, where they could earn a four-year degree in engineering technology and, presumably, significantly enhance their long-range career options.

 The Shelton State-to-UWA pathway previously existed, Cobb said, though there was no formal treaty between the campuses to quickly facilitate the student transfers. The agreement signed last month by UWA President Dr. Ken Tucker and Shelton State President Bradley Newman details the curriculum, the hour requirements and the transfer specifics. 

Cobb, who also directs UWA’s Center for Workforce Development, couldn’t be happier.

“Now I’ve got it set up that if they take this curriculum, if they were going to school full-time, they can finish in 2 years,” Cobb said, with part-time students earning the degree in three years. “I was trying to figure out a way so that they are not having to come back for a full four years.”

In 2014, Cobb reconfigured the Department of Computer Information Systems and Technology’s industrial technology major and revamped its curriculum. From that emerged a new major with a new title — a bachelor of science degree in engineering technology — that instantly drew more student interest, both for the modernized class offerings and the moniker itself.

Newman Cobb Tucker
Dr. Donnie Cobb (center) discusses the engineering technology transfer process with Shelton State Community College President Bradley Newman (left) and UWA President Dr. Ken Tucker.

“You’d be amazed at what’s in a name,” Cobb said.

Beneath the surface of UWA’s engineering technology major are two critical advantages for students — the program’s national accreditation from ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) and its commitment to skills-based instruction.

The ABET label gives UWA graduates the ability to apply for government-based engineering jobs. The applied engineering teaching methods empower graduates not only with classroom knowledge but also with valuable experience in their field.

 “If you’re taking an electrical course with us, then you are going to have to put your hands on the equipment and actually do the wiring,” Cobb said. “If you’re studying programmable logic controls, then you have to actually get in there and work with the PLCs. If you’re taking draft and design, then you have to work with the computer and design the products, draw the products and print the products out.”

UWA Professor in Tech Lab
Hands-on learning at UWA in state of-the-art labs gives engineering technology graduates  both practical experience that prepares them to enter their careers as well as mentoring from professors who are leading experts in their fields.

A partial list of potential opportunities for graduates, Cobb said, includes roles as electrical engineers, production engineers, reliability engineers, product managers, quality engineers, construction engineers, operation managers and senior designers.

UWA’s engineering technology degree “will open up more doors for them in engineering fields,” he said.

Story: Phillip Tutor | Photos: Contributed