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Engineering Courses via the Internet Gaining in Popularity

May 19, 2005

The College of Engineering’s Engineering Center for Distance Education is televising 37 courses this spring and enrollment in most of the courses is growing. In addition, most of the students viewing the courses in their home or office are viewing them via the Internet.

Though most engineering distance education students are employed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, others are in Austin, Denton and Greenville Texas; Claypool, Indiana and Walled Lake, Michigan. There are four students in Walled Lake, all working at Williams International and pursuing an advanced engineering degree in propulsion. Williams develops and manufactures small gas turbine engines used on private and business jet aircraft. A Williams jet engine powered the GlobalFlyer on the first solo non-stop flight around the world earlier this year.

UTA alumnus Steven Stanley, an engineer at Williams International, recommended UTA’s distance education opportunities to several of the engineers at Williams. “After taking the Advanced Propulsion class at UTA in the spring of 2004, I thought they would probably benefit from taking the class, too,” he said. “The Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at UTA offers a solid engineering program based equally on engineering principles and the science behind engineering. Dr. [Don] Wilson addresses both the science behind propulsion and the engineering techniques and disciplines required to become a successful propulsion engineer.”

The switch from viewing courses on videotape to streaming video on the Internet has brought several improvements to the course delivery. “We’re able to have the course available online within an hour or so after the class time,” said Dave Davis, director of the Engineering Center for Distance Education. “That means students can view the class on the same day as on-campus students. There’s no waiting for a videotape to arrive in the mail, and there’s no need for a VCR.”

Last fall, 28 students received videotapes and 79 used streaming video on the Internet. This spring, 53 students chose videotapes and 115 are using the Internet.