HCC and UT-Tyler partnership yields new graduates and new degree program

Jun 8, 2018


This year marked the fourth spring graduation for the University of Texas-Tyler, that had more than 80 students graduate for the program. No small feat for a partnership that began back in 2013 when Houston Community College teamed with UT-Tyler to offer innovative, four-year degree programs at the Alief-Hayes campus. Back then the program offered two degree plans, electrical and mechanical engineering. Since then, the program added civil engineering, and this coming fall, students will be able to receive an associate degree in construction management.

Dr. Melvin Robinson is a UT-Tyler assistant professor who has been with the program since its inception and currently serves as interim director. Robinson said that the focus of the program is to prepare students for the workforce, but doesn’t rule out students going to the next level in their education.

“Our focus is the working engineer,” he said. “We’ve had several students placed at large companies, such as Honeywell and Chevron, but we’ve also had some who want to do research or move on to graduate school.”

Robinson said the program looks a lot like Houston - - extremely diverse, with students from not only various cultures, but different career levels. In addition to traditional high school graduates, the program also has students who already have degrees or work experience.

“A lot of our students are second-degree students who received a degree in accounting, for example, and decided they had a passion for engineering or wanted to try their hand at it,” he said. “We also have quite a few working students who have the experience but they need that degree to advance within their company.”

As the program develops more partnerships with corporations, even greater opportunities open up for internships, and a path toward thriving careers for graduates. The most recent partnering effort was a career fair held at the West Houston Institute that allowed students the opportunity to speak directly with hiring managers and representatives from 20 companies.

Another key element of the program is faculty involvement through one-on-one mentoring and career advisement. Faculty members do their best to set students up for success in school and their careers. Robinson said that it’s the faculty’s goal to steer students toward a career path that’s in line with their strengths.

“I know each and every one of my students and in our program we do more than teach them the curriculum, we teach them skills that will help them get jobs,” he said. “We teach them the proper decorum in approaching companies, help them with their 30-second ‘elevator pitch,’ and show them how to research a company. These are the types of things that make the program unique from what students would get at other institutions.”

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