Kansas invests in new plans to boost number of engineering graduates

Stateline Midwest Volume 20, No 6: June 2011

One of the first sentences in a recently enacted Kansas law explains the rationale for the state’s new, targeted investment in higher education: “Engineering intensive industries represent approximately one-third of the statewide payroll and tax base.”

Kansas wants more engineering graduates, and the increased economic activity that it believes will come with them.

To that end, SB 127 and SB 154 were passed by the Legislature and signed into law in May. The first measure sets aside $10.5 million annually over the next 10 years. That money will be split evenly among three public universities, which will work with the Board of Regents and Kansas Department of Commerce to increase the number of engineering graduates.

The state’s goal is to have 1,365 graduates by 2021, a 56 percent increase over current figures, according to the Lawrence Journal-World. SB 154 will allow the University of Kansas School of Engineering to issue $65 million in bonds for an expansion project.

Between 1986 and 2006, Kansas was one of 30 states where the number of students earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering declined, according to a 2008 American Association of Engineering Societies study. Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska were the only three Midwestern states not to experience a drop over this time period.