Engineering a preferred college among employers

Fearing the job market is not an issue for University of Miami engineering students. As the only school at Miami with its own career service office, the economy is no match for the College of Engineering, a preferred school for many employers. “A lot of large companies have become our industry partners,” said Ann Helmers, the director of career planning and placement at the College of Engineering. “We’re the preferred recruiting source for companies like GE, IBM and Microsoft.”

While most companies set a limit as to how many students they will hire from each school, last year they hired three times that number from UM. The demand for engineers continues to increase as technology expands.

“We’re not seeing job placement drop-off,” Helmers said. “The number of engineering grads has gone down, but the demand has gone up. Only five percent of people choose engineering as a major even though there are so many opportunities.”

Thanks to one-on-one mentoring, the college puts great effort into providing students with internship, research and job opportunities before graduation. A unique co-op program that is offered allows some students to alternate between working and attending classes each semester.

“The College of Engineering here does a great job of diversifying your engineering interests and gives you the tools to start your own engineering firm as well as work for somewhere else,” said junior Anthony Dorsey, an electrical engineering major. “When you leave here, you’ll definitely be prepared for a job anywhere.”

Located in the west end of campus, the university’s College of Engineering was founded in 1947. Divided into 14 different specialties, students choose from a list that includes aerospace and biomedical engineering.

With close to 800 students enrolled and run by newly appointed Dean James Tien, the college offers opportunities for students with all interests.

The college places a focus on helping minorities succeed by offering diverse groups like the Association for Cuban American Engineers, the Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers. Miami is also one of five universities that teamed up with IBM in 2005 to launch the Latin American Grid Initiative to create leadership opportunities for Hispanic students in the field of engineering.

“Ethnic diversity is important to everyone here,” said senior Amelia Ellison, president of National Society of Black Engineers. “But reaching women is also important. Just because you’re a female and you like math or science doesn’t mean you have to be a nurse or a teacher.”

Students enjoy Engineering Week (E-week), a week-long event that celebrates engineering as a profession. Many guest speakers take part and hands-on activities take place.

“E-Week is the most interesting event in the department,” Dorsey said. “It shows comradery and commitment to the college and allows you to have fun on top of the usually grueling engineering process.”

More than 30 labs for specialized subjects, including the biomechanics research lab and robotics lab, are offered at the School of Engineering. And because of UM’s unique resources, engineering students can perform research in practically any field. Jackson Memorial Hospital is available to biomedical engineers. For those interested in supply-chain network simulation, there is the business administration school, while students interested in environmental engineering have the Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

“The school offers so many opportunities, sometimes it’s overwhelming,” said junior Jessica Ell, a computer engineering major.

IMPaCT (integrated math, physics, communication track), an interdisciplinary program for freshmen that helps them learn the importance of communication, math, chemistry and physics, exposes them to engineering concepts the first semester on campus.

“The staff in the office always knows me by name,” Ell said. “I never feel like just another C-number.”