UPJ engineers receive a hands-on type of major

UPJ engineers receive a hands-on type of major

Moriah Howell

UPJ engineering students work together during a lab. Pitt-Johnstown campus offers engineering technology majors, providing students with hands-on experience.

Sean Sauro, Opinions Editor

It may be easy to assume that regional campuses, like UPJ, closely follow main campus curriculum. However, from slight differences to complete course adjustments and majors, this assumption is incorrect.

This assumption holds especially true when it comes to the difference in the engineering programs of the Pitt system’s Oakland and Johnstown campuses.

While the main campus offers engineering majors, Johnstown offers engineering technology major. This may raise questions over a difference between the two, and if one offers increased job placement.

UPJ Engineering Technology Division Chair Jerry Samples, said though there are differences in math and science requirements, the main difference lies in teaching methods.

“I think we are more application based than the main campus, and I think they are more theoretical,” Samples said, adding that, when looking for instructors, experience is required at Johnstown.

“Where the main campus can hire instructors right out of college, we are looking for a different kind of instructor,” Samples said. “We require a minimum of three years industrial experience, more if we can help it.”

When it comes to job placement, Samples said there may be a level of misunderstanding between two- and four-year technology programs.

“They lump two- and four-year programs together and get a sort of representation of what people can do without looking at what has been taught.”

However, Samples said because of a heightened curriculum, UPJ Engineering Technology

students are often defying negative connotations.

“There is a base requirement for the amount of math graduates need, and we exceed that,” Samples said. “There is a difference in the type of physics needed; we exceed that.

“Because of that, our graduates don’t suffer some of the stigma you might get by saying I was in a technology program.”

UPJ civil engineering technologies student and senior Emily Cernic said she has full confidence in the university’s program and is optimistic about finding a job upon graduation.

“Johnstown’s program seems more hands-on than the main campus,” Cernic said, “and I’m pretty sure a lot of graduates quickly get jobs.”

She said this confidence in job placement was partially the reason she chose engineering technology as a career path.

“That’s part of the reason I that I chose engineering–to get a job.”

Showcasing a bulletin board full of graduates business cards, Samples confirmed what he called excellent job placement and said, though there are some companies that prefer engineering degrees and others that prefer engineering technology’s, UPJ students are finding jobs.

“No matter how you graduate you’re really not an engineer until you get your professional license, but during this whole recession or downturn our students have been going out and getting jobs.”

Representatives at the University of Pittsburgh main campus did not provide information for this story.