Public Affairs

Engineering Tomorrow’s Leaders

February 23, 2012
By Stephanie Thara

Engineering Tomorrow’s Leaders

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, engineers held more than 1.6 million jobs in 2010, with starting salaries among the highest of all college graduates. With a bachelor’s degree required for most entry-level positions in engineering, the California State University has made it a priority to offer a multitude of engineering degrees with options including civil, mechanical, industrial, electrical, aerospace, computer, marine and chemical.

Graduating 45 percent of the state’s engineering and information technology majors, the CSU is a vital contributor to the engineering and technical disciplines. The system has made a concerted effort to prepare and inspire students to be proficient in technology and engineering fields.

Based on California’s increasing demand for engineers, the CSU has joined more than 80 partners to recruit, develop and retain 100,000 excellent science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers over the coming 10 years. The university plans to prepare 1,500 new math and science teachers annually through 2015, who will help future engineers develop the foundation skills necessary to thrive in the field.

Engineering Tomorrow’s LeadersIn addition to hosting conferences with industry leaders to promote careers in engineering, the CSU and its campuses have instituted programs, events and initiatives to increase the number of underrepresented students who are joining the profession. For example, the (STEM)2 program integrates service learning to encourage students to apply their STEM disciplinary knowledge for the common good and to strengthen communities. Additionally, campus programs, such as Long Beach State’s Women Engineers @ the Beach, Cal State Northridge’s ACCESS and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s High School Shadow program, introduce girls in middle and high school to the field of engineering.

The CSU is proud to offer the type of hands-on learning activities that have created pioneers in the field including:

  • Burt Rutan (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, ’65, ’87): the innovative aeronautical engineer who designed SpaceShipOne, the world's first privately built manned spacecraft to reach space
  • William H. Swanson (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, ’72): joined Raytheon in ’72 as the highest-paid starting engineer and is now chairman/ CEO at the company
  • Jean Thatcher Arnold (Cal Maritime, ‘76): the first female to be licensed as chief engineer in the U.S. merchant marine
  • Margaret L. Johnson (San Diego State, ’85): began at Qualcomm in ‘89 as a software engineer and is now the executive VP and president of the global market development department