The $20.6 billion biennial budget recently approved by the N.C. General Assembly includes more than $1.4 million for expansion of Western Carolina University’s undergraduate engineering program to Biltmore Park. State appropriations for 2013-14 include $698,962 for engineering program start-up costs and laboratory equipment at WCU’s Biltmore Park location, and $719,844 in recurring funds to cover faculty positions and ongoing operations. With the budget now signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, WCU will proceed with established processes for bringing academic offerings to the Asheville area, with the expanded engineering program expected to begin at Biltmore Park in the fall of 2014. Additional engineering education opportunities in the fast-growing corridor between Asheville and Hendersonville will help meet increasing industry and business demand for a highly qualified workforce, said WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher. “This is a real game-changer for Western North Carolina,” Belcher said. “The Milken Institute, which is a major economic think tank, has stated that one of the keys to a region’s success in economic development is close proximity to an institution of higher education that offers engineering degrees. With the funding provided by the General Assembly, we will be able to expand our Cullowhee-based engineering program to better serve the people and our business partners in Buncombe, Henderson and surrounding counties.” The Biltmore Park program will primarily focus on serving working professionals and will lead to a general engineering degree that will provide the specific skills sought by regional industry partners. WCU’s generalist approach to engineering offerings has a common core of mathematics and science, augmented by concentrations in specific engineering specializations. Additional engineering specializations can be created to meet the needs of the region. Because of industry demand, a new concentration in mechanical engineering will be offered on the Cullowhee campus beginning this fall.
For more information about engineering or any programs in WCU’s Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology, visit the website kimmel.wcu.edu or call 828-227-7368.