The deans of the Colleges of Engineering at Iowa State University and the University of Iowa defended the wisdom of keeping both programs at this week’s Board of Regents meeting. While some say the state universities should eliminate duplication to save money, I-S-U dean James Melsa says both programs are important to Iowa. He says colleges of engineering are true economic drivers of the economy, as he says to make things at a profit and sell them, you need engineering talent. Melsa says spending money on the engineering program is a better investment than some of the things the legislature has funded.He says it’s discouraging to see money go to new prisons, and he says while Vision Iowa is a “pet project”, he says building aquariums and and other projects won’t help if we don’t have talented people to live and work in the state. Melsa says the ISU program has managed to keep turning out graduates despite big state budget cuts. He says they’ve worked to keep the appropriate number of courses, and he says that’s led some people to think the program has been able to handle the cuts, but the cuts are hurting below the surface. Melsa says the cuts are starting to take their toll as professors have to teach more and larger classes without more resources. He says that’s led to the loss of good faculty members, and faculty members aren’t able to do some of the things they’ve done in the past. Barry Butler is the dean of the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering. He says students coming out of the U-of-I are earning 50-thousand dollars a year to start, which he says points out the value of the education. Butler and Melsa say there is very little duplication in the engineering areas covered by each school.
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