Washington Engineering Institute has joined the ranks of Whatcom County colleges offering a four-year degree.
The state Washington Student Achievement Council on July 27 gave the institute in Bellingham the authorization to offer a four-year bachelor of science in civil engineering technology.
The institute also received the OK to offer a new two-year associates of applied science in civil engineering technology.
Prior to the new designation, the institute’s students earned trade school certificates through its career school.
“It is our next stage in growth. It was planned. We did it. We are very happy,” said Dave C. Bren, president of the small private college in Haskell Business Park. “And we’re excited. But now comes the real work.”
The institute also offers continuing education coursework.
Founded in November 2009 with the help of Bellingham industry, the institute graduated its first group of students in June 2012.
Fall quarter classes, including for the new college courses, begin Sept. 4. There are openings for the new four-year and two-year programs.
Starting tuition for college courses will be $5,400 a year, among the lowest in the state for a four-year college, Bren noted.
“We have to because we’re just starting out,” he said.
Career school tuition will continue to be $3,600 a year.
The low tuition is a combination of factors that include a “very humble” facility and no administration, according to Bren.
“We just have the bare minimum to do what we need to do. We focus on teaching in the classroom,” said Bren, a civil engineer who also is the civil engineering technology instructor. “It doesn’t matter what the building looks like. It matters what instruction is happening inside the building.”
The new designation won’t bring a change in name, or hours.
The institute will continue to offer evening classes only — allowing students to work during the day and go to school at night and faculty to keep their day jobs.
Its teachers are professional engineers still working in their fields in public and private industry, according to Bren.
“This is an incredible opportunity for the local community,” he added. “What excites me is it’s home-grown.”
A new bachelor and associates degree offering from the institute comes as public officials and private industry worry about educating enough students to meet future demands for workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Officials have said the need for what are known as STEM graduates is critical, in Washington state and nationally.
Within five years, for example, Washington state will have at least 5,000 STEM jobs left unfilled because there aren’t enough qualified candidates, according to a 2010 survey of employers conducted by the state Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board.
Additional information about the Washington Engineering Institute in Bellingham is online at weiedu.org. Or contact Admissions Director Kristina Daheim at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the institute’s new bachelor of science in civil engineering technology and associates of applied science in civil engineering technology.
Or call 360-739-1428.