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December 10, 2010

Gavilan College engineering program to return for Fall 2011

Gavilan College, CA -  Beginning in the fall semester 2011, Gavilan College will once again offer a comprehensive lower-division engineering program that prepares students for transfer with full junior-standing to engineering programs at four-year colleges and universities.  The curriculum will follow the pattern established by the California Engineering Liaison Committee (ELC), an organization with representatives for al of the two and four-year engineering programs in the state of California. Students will be able to transfer to the campus of their choice and complete the required program in the same time period as students who start at the four-year schools.

An engineering program was offered continuously at Gavilan College until the mid 1990’s and then again for three years in the early 2000’s, however both times the program was discontinued for budgetary reasons and low enrollment. This time the program has the benefit of support through institutional grants and higher levels of student interest and preparation. Grant funding through the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program has provided the equipment and resources needed, and Title V funds will make it possible to identify potential engineering students at the time they begin their education, to provide pathways and support systems to help them succeed. Whereas in prior years few students had completed the necessary prerequisites for engineering, the college is now seeing increased numbers of students enrolling in higher-levels of calculus and science.

"We don't want to start and then stop," said Kathleen Rose, Gavilan College Vice President of Instruction. "We are committed to providing support at a number of levels."

The program’s director, Russell Lee, is excited about the opportunity to both help students complete the course requirements for transfer, and to be excellent students when they reach their transfer destination. “There’s a big distinction between offering a program and offering the course work. The program is two-fold.  One part is to have a sequence of courses to prepare students for transfer to four-year schools, to get a degree in engineering. The other goal of the program is to offer support for students and to make sure they understand what engineering really is. They have a resource available to them to help them be successful in the courses they have.”

Lee says that this dual objective—meeting the requirements for transfer and success—was the faculty's vision in reinstating the program. A strong effort was made “to establish an academic infrastructure to ensure that students in our service area  have an excellent academic experience that will prepare them for transfer to, and success at, the four-year engineering school of their choice.”

Any student who meets the prerequisites may enroll in the program. “The engineering courses have pretty rigorous prerequisites,” Says Lee.  Students who are interested should "take the Introduction to Engineering course (which will be offered in the fall) ... I would encourage them to take that class as early as they can, after they’ve identified engineering as the major that they want to pursue.” Math 1A, first semester calculus, is also a prerequisite for most engineering courses.

Lee shared that every student that had successfully completed the program in the past had transferred to four-year engineering programs and received degrees.  “Ex-Gavilan students are now practicing engineers in industry and research settings, some are graduate students, and others chose to pursue different career paths.”

So, what does it take to be an engineer?

“[The student] should find interest in the physical world—they should want to know why things work; they should want to know how things work and how to make things.” It helps to be good at math.

“Practically speaking,” says Lee, “a lot of engineering students get jobs. And they get pretty high paying jobs. So, after you’ve gone through all the ‘trials and tribulations’ of being an engineering student, usually you’re rewarded handsomely at the completion of your efforts.”

Lee expressed his excitement and desire to reach out to all the local students who may be tinkering with the idea of pursuing a career in engineering. “We want everybody to know that engineering is a viable option.”

For more information, please contact Russell Lee, Physics instructor at


Last modified: August 17, 2011
Gavilan College Red Diamond 5055 Santa Teresa Boulevard Red Diamond Gilroy, CA 95020 Red Diamond (408) 848-4800