Retiring CSU Channel Islands President Richard Rush said April 21 an engineering program could be launched at the school this fall.
Rush said he hopes to make an official announcement in two weeks. He made the surprise announcement at the CSUCI Business and Technology Partnership Leadership Dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ventura.
Last May, Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Ventura County, proposed allocating $1.5 million in state funds to the university. In June, the state legislature approved $500,000 in the $117.2 billion state budget for CSUCI to start an engineering program. Language in the budget was changed at the last minute, though, which made the creation of the program far less certain.
“The California State University shall continue planning for an engineering program at the Channel Islands campus and may allocate up to $500,000 from this or other funds available to the university for this purpose,” the budget reads.
The change effectively took the decision to fund the program out of the hands of the state legislature and put it into the hands of the CSU Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach.
CSUCI is the only public university in Ventura County, where companies such as Amgen, Haas Automation and Teledyne Technologies and the Port of Hueneme make up the Highway 101 Tech Corridor and offer of hundreds of engineering jobs.
The closest engineering programs are UC Santa Barbara and CSU Northridge. The study found most of the CSU Northridge students take jobs in Los Angeles or other metro areas larger than Ventura County.
A CSUCI study as part of Irwin’s proposal said Ventura County firms must often hire from outside the region to fill their needs. Attendees gasped and then cheered the announcement by Rush.
“We really need engineers on this campus,” Michael Soltys, chair of CSUCI’s computer science department, told the Business Times last May, adding that there’s roughly 300 engineering job openings in Ventura County in any given year.
There’s currently no engineering department or bachelor’s or master’s degrees in engineering available at the university, but the campus does offer minors in robotics engineering, game design and security systems engineering.
Rush did not offer more details about the future of the program at the event.
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