TOPEKA — The Senate has given tentative approval of a plan to provide state money to boost state universities’ output of engineers.
Senators voiced their approval for Senate Substitute for House Bill 2149, which sets aside millions of dollars in ongoing state funding for Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State universities. A roll call vote is expected Wednesday.
The goal is to increase the number of engineers churned out by state universities by 60 percent, said Sen. Carolyn McGinn who carried the bill on the floor.
She said the plan is to grant $4 million to the universities’ engineering programs in 2013 and $7 million a year in 2014 and beyond, McGinn said.
For the universities to claim the state money, they would need to match it dollar for dollar with funding from private sources.
Today’s vote is a follow-up to a March 10 press conference by legislators, educators and industry leaders.
At that conference, officials said the universities and corporations would work closely together to generate the types of engineers and research that the state’s major industries need. They also said the universities are unlikely to encounter much, if any, difficulty in meeting the private-sector match requirement.
Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said even with the state’s ongoing economic problems, there is still an unmet need for more engineers in aerospace, energy and other industries.
The money to the universities would be used to help recruit qualified students, reduce the rate at which engineering students switch majors and expand engineering school facilities.