Texas A&M opens engineering academy at Tarrant County College

Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp said the new engineering academy at Tarrant Community College is a small part of the university system's wider investment in Fort Worth

Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp said the new engineering academy at Tarrant Community College is a small part of the university system’s wider investment in Fort Worth

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‘Aggieland North’ is putting more roots down in Fort Worth as Texas A&M announced a partnership with Tarrant County College Friday to open a new engineering academy this fall.

Unlike other community college programs where students have to compete to transfer into a four-year university, participants in the program will automatically be dual enrolled in both Texas A&M’s and Tarrant Community College.

This allows them to move seamlessly into courses at Texas A&M’s main campus in College Station after completing their core engineering courses at Tarrant Community College’s south campus.

It’s also a more affordable way to earn an engineering degree, a Texas A&M spokesperson said. The university estimates students can save up to $4,200 per semester in tuition and fees.

Approximately 30 Tarrant County College students will have the opportunity to take core engineering courses from Texas A&M faculty starting this fall.

“I wouldn’t be here without a community college,” said John Hurtado, dean of Texas A&M’s engineering college. He described how a community college adviser helped him navigate the unfamiliar world of academia which put him on his path toward a career in aerospace engineering.

“I know that those people are here at Tarrant County, and I know that students today still need that help,” Hurtado said.

Saginaw Boswell High School alum Isabel Garcia attended a similar Texas A&M engineering academy at Dallas College. She said the program offered her an affordable entry point into higher education at a time she didn’t have the resources to attend a four year institution.

She joked about her trepidation at having to travel to take course in Dallas, which she referred to as, “the forbidden lands,” but said the program helped her get used to A&M’s rigorous course load and prepared her to finish her electrical engineering degree in College Station.

Garcia said she would have benefited from having an academy program closer to home, but said she was excited for the impact this program would have on the next cohort of academy students.

Her brother, a high school senior, was inspired by her experience to explore a career in computer engineering, Garcia said.

“I’m just so excited that he’ll have an opportunity that will be a lot less stressful than what I had to go through to pursue his career in engineering,” she said.

This program will make higher education more equitable and accessible in southeast Fort Worth, wrote city council member Chris Nettles in an email. His district covers southeast Fort Worth where Tarrant County College’s south campus is located.

“We encourage any local or state colleges to pursue partnerships with TCC’s South Campus so South Fort Worth’s low income communities can start forging the path to higher education and six figure salaries,” he wrote.

Fellow council member Carlos Flores, himself an aerospace engineer, wrote in an email that the program provides an opportunity for students to get into “the exciting and competitive field of engineering.”

“The need for engineers in various fields continues to be a concern locally and nationally. Efforts like this will go far to address that need,” Flores wrote.

Jared Williams, a science educator and city council member representing southwest Fort Worth, said in a text message that programs like this, “are an important investment in the future of our students.”

Students going through these kinds of programs will, “be well prepared to grow their lives in neighborhoods across Fort Worth and will strengthen Fort Worth as a center of innovative excellence and economic success,” Williams said.

Mayor Mattie Parker applauded Texas A&M and Tarrant County College writing in an email the partnership is an innovative solution to increasing the amount of educational opportunities in Fort Worth.

The partnership is part of a larger effort by Texas A&M to establish a foothold in Fort Worth, Chancellor John Sharp said Friday.

“We figured out pretty soon after we put the law school in that Fort Worth is our kind of town,” Sharp said.

In November 2021, the university announced it was building a Tier One research university campus around the site of its law school building at 1515 Commerce St.

A&M’s new downtown campus will house an innovation and research center, which Sharp said will match Fort Worth’s growth, expand its industrial manufacturing employment base, and make the city a hub for research in emergency communication, biomedical research and nutrition science.

This story was originally published May 13, 2022 2:23 PM.

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Harrison Mantas covers the city of Fort Worth’s government, agencies and people. He previously covered fact-checking and misinformation at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, as well as local, state, and federal politics in Phoenix, Arizona and Washington, DC He likes to live tweet city hall meetings, and help his fellow Fort Worthians figure out what’s going on. Reach him by email at [email protected]star-telegram.com, Twitter @HarrisonMantas, or by phone at 817-390-7040.

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