Asee peer logo

Meeting Enrollment Challenges In Engineering Technology At Penn State Altoona

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Recruitment & Retention in ET Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.883.1 - 13.883.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Irene Ferrara Pennsylvania State University-Altoona

visit author page

Irene Ferrara is the coordinator of the Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology program for the Altoona College of the Pennsylvania State University. She received her B.S. in Engineering Science from the Pennsylvania State University and her M.S. in Mechanics and Materials Science from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Address: 205 Force Technology Center, Penn State Altoona College, 3000 Ivyside Park, Altoona, PA 16601. Telephone: 814-949-5568, email:

visit author page


Andrew Vavreck Pennsylvania State University-Altoona

visit author page

Andrew N. Vavreck, Ph.D.

Andrew N. Vavreck is Associate Professor of Engineering and Head of
the Division of Business and Engineering at Penn State Altoona. He
has earned degrees in Engineering Science, Engineering Mechanics and
Engineering Science and Mechanics, all from Penn State. His work
experience includes engineering research and management at Johns
Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Applied
Research Laboratory, Penn State. His research is in smart material
design, application and control.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Meeting Enrollment Challenges in Engineering Technology at Penn State Altoona Abstract

In fall 2005, engineering technology enrollments experienced a sharp decline at the Altoona campus of the Pennsylvania State University. Prior to this time, enrollments in the associate degree programs of Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) and Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) were fairly steady. Since the baccalaureate program in Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology (EMET) was designed to offer students completing the associate degree programs a four-year option, these enrollments were also fairly steady for a number of years, and the pronounced decrease in the number of students in the two-year programs potentially threatened this program as well.

Two simultaneous efforts have resulted in a reversal of the downward enrollment trend. First, a program change now offers students admission directly into the EMET program as first semester freshmen. Second, efforts to recruit students from the theoretical engineering majors have increased. These efforts are concentrated in a freshmen-level engineering design course taken by all engineering and engineering technology students on campus. The intent is not to encourage any student to transfer who is happy in his/her major. It is instead to capture those students who will become dissatisfied and leave the College of Engineering before they do so. Each year, a small percentage of students have consistently transferred into engineering technology from engineering. Retention rates in the traditional engineering programs at Penn State are fairly low, and it could be argued that this is the case because these students are not really suited to the theoretical programs, and that many may be happier and would remain in an applied engineering technology program. Efforts to reach these students to make them aware of the full range of options available to them have been enhanced in the past two years, resulting in an increase in transfers from engineering into engineering technology.

The EMET program has been incredibly successful in its short twelve year existence. Over the life of the program, our job placement rates have consistently been 100%. Our graduates are successful in a variety of positions and industries, and work in manufacturing, technical support, sales, design, and research. Many alumni are in management positions, and continue to recruit recent and upcoming graduates for current positions. The majority of employers do not distinguish between engineers and engineering technology students. There is little if any disparity in salary between the two groups. Many employers specifically want engineering technology graduates because they have better practical skills and require substantially less time to acclimate to a work environment. At this point, we cannot satisfy the employers who are contacting us to hire EMET program graduates. Clearly, we are producing a quality product, and yet attracting students to the program has become an issue.

Ferrara, I., & Vavreck, A. (2008, June), Meeting Enrollment Challenges In Engineering Technology At Penn State Altoona Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3617

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015