IN THE MEDIA: Rowan University adds two new majors to innovative degree program

IN THE MEDIA: Rowan University adds two new majors to innovative degree program

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Rowan University is introducing two brand new degree programs to meet companies' growing need for skilled technologists — and they can be completed entirely on a community college campus at a sharp discount.

The Glassboro, N.J.-based university recently announced the launch of two new “3+1” programs at Rowan College at Burlington County’s Mount Laurel campus focused on electrical engineering technology and mechanical engineering technology.

In 2017, the community college was the first in the region to debut the 3+1 program style, which goes beyond the 2+2 associates-to-bachelor’s transfer agreements that are the mainstay of Rowan and RCBC’s partnership. The 3+1 program lets students take the first three years of a degree program at the RCBC campus with its faculty, who are advised by Rowan faculty. Rowan professors then teach the students’ final year.

All four years of the new technology-focused programs will be completed at the Mount Laurel campus, said Anthony Lowman, dean of Rowan University’s Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering, and students will only pay Rowan prices for the final year. That means they receive a Rowan bachelor’s degree for a fraction of the typical price.

More than 1,100 students have signed up for 3+1 programs, the university said, and as of May, 100 graduates’ savings on their collective degrees will be $3.3 million.

Lowman said they’ve heard from industry partners about the need for more technologists who, as opposed to more theory and concept-focused engineers, are specially trained in the real-world application of those theories. The demand for those positions has gotten so strong the college created its own engineering technology department to oversee programs like the new electrical and mechanical engineering degrees.

“Engineering jobs are still rising but the technology jobs are rising just as fast, if not faster,” Lowman said. Large defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, which has a large presence in South Jersey, are the kind of companies most in need of technologists, along with companies operating in a host of other industries like manufacturing, energy and light fabrication.

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A co-op component is also included with the program, with students spending the equivalent of nine months — two summers and one academic semester — gaining work experience. Rowan's engineering college recently finished retrofitting its curriculum to make co-ops work, but launching the new programs mean they can now bake it in from the beginning, Lowman said.

He's hoping to enroll about 25 students for the first third-year cohort of the college's electrical engineering technology program when it begins next year and the same amount for the mechanical technology cohort starting soon after.

Eventually, he said, the goal is to offer a technology-focused degree for each of its core engineering areas.

Rowan University and then-named Burlington County Community College first partnered in 2015 in a deal that changed the college's name and gave students automatic acceptance into Rowan University after earning a two-year degree at the college. It was the university's second such agreement after striking a similar deal with what's now Rowan College at Gloucester County, formerly Gloucester County College, in 2014.

Both colleges give the fast-growing university — its student body has increased by 56 percent in the past six years — a way to continue its expansion without needing to add space to or stress resources at its already packed Glassboro campus.

"We're growing rapidly on the main campus," Lowman said. "We're already at-capacity, student-wise, and this is a chance to reach more kids in South Jersey with engineering technology degrees."