Regional University System of Oklahoma regents recently toured Tinker Air Force Base’s Air Logistics Complex. Over 26,000 mostly civilian employees use cutting edge technology to ensure that military aviation units are ready to safeguard national security. Engineers, mechanics and technicians are in high demand at Tinker and in the private sector as aerospace in Oklahoma rapidly expands.
Aerospace is the second largest industry in Oklahoma and aerospace engineers need an engineering degree from an accredited university. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oklahoma needs a minimum of 3,000 new engineers annually over the next 9 years to keep up with workforce demands. Currently, Oklahoma’s accredited engineering programs graduate 1,500 students per year, and half of those graduates leave the state, forcing Tinker and others to recruit out of state. Oklahoma ranks in the bottom 20 in engineers per capita.
RUSO is dedicated to ensuring students from any part of the state have their opportunity to get an engineering degree. 80% of Oklahoma’s population lives in a county that is within 25 miles of one of RUSO’s locations. Our universities are more accessible to students. We’re smaller. We’re less expensive – our academic service fees are only one-third of what other universities charge. And for rural students who want to stay close to home, our universities provide a quality, comprehensive education.
We align our degrees to reflect the needs of business. We are expanding opportunities for students to become engineers, not to compete with, but to complete the number and kinds of engineering options available. Northeastern has been approved to begin offering a mechanical engineering degree this fall. East Central is starting the approval process. UCO has the third largest engineering program in the state and is advocating for additional funding to grow its program. Southwestern is aligning its current engineering technology and physics programs with aerospace industry leaders and has launched an aerospace and defense workforce initiative. Northwestern has an undergraduate pre-engineering program. Southeastern’s acclaimed Aviation Sciences Institute partners with Tinker and is expanding its operations in Durant infusing state-of-the-art aircraft and simulation equipment that rivals schools nationwide. RUSO is exploring opportunities to connect all Oklahomans with the opportunity to pursue engineering credentials to fill the need across the state. Other educational institutions, including career tech, community colleges and research universities have a role in preparing Oklahomans to meet the demand for engineering talent. We are working to partner with all Oklahoma educational institutions to meet this critical workforce need while keeping costs low.
Regional universities power Oklahoma’s workforce, with a history of up to 92% of our graduates employed in the state after graduation. We intend to prepare the workforce to power our booming aviation and aerospace industries. RUSO is a quality, affordable option for engineering and other STEM majors. Our regional universities are ready to prepare students to achieve their full potential and to ensure more Oklahomans are qualified for engineering jobs in Oklahoma.