School of Engineering & Technology Launches Direct Admissions Program
September 14, 2023
The school welcomes its inaugural cohort of first-year students to campus this fall, via a program aimed at building community and fostering student success.
A group of thirty students make up the inaugural cohort of the School of Engineering & Technology’s (SET) direct admissions program. Typically, students apply to a SET program (for example, an undergraduate degree major like computer science) before the start of their junior year. This application to a major is separate from the one a student completes to be admitted to UW Tacoma.
SET Direct streamlines this process. “As long as a student applied to the UW Tacoma before the November 15 early-action deadline, and as long as they indicated one of our SET majors as their first major of interest, then we do the rest,” said SET Undergraduate Advisor/Recruiter Noelle Wilson. “We get a list of those students from admissions, so there’s no separate application to fill out.”
The first cohort consists of five students in each of SET’s six majors — civil engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, information technology and mechanical engineering. “The choice of five in each major was intentional,” said SET Academic Lead Advisor/Affiliate Faculty Kira King. “We want to make sure that we have the ability to really serve these students one-on-one, and, so, our fear with over-admitting was that we would lose that high-touch quality.”
SET’s direct admissions program is several years in the making. “Faculty in SET led the initial efforts to develop a program,” said Wilson. Several faculty, including Program Chair for Mechanical Engineering Heather Dillon and Civil Engineering Program Chair Emese Hadnagy, formed a committee to explore the idea. King and Wilson were part of that committee.
SET’s program is the second of its kind at UW Tacoma. The Milgard School of Business also has a direct admissions program. “One of the goals of our direct admissions program is to create stronger diversity in our majors,” said King. “We know that for women, first-generation students, non-binary students and low-income students, there can be a lot of imposter syndrome, especially around engineering.”
King and Wilson believe SET’s program addresses these issues. “Students will start building faculty relationships from day one,” said Wilson. “They’ll get access to mentorship and support that will help them persist to graduation.”
The program is “designed for first year students and Running Start students with at least a year of pre-requisites to complete.” A committee comprised of SET faculty and staff (including King and Wilson) meets to review applications and make selections. “A lot of the information on the applications is redacted,” said Wilson. “We can only see a student’s grades, their personal statements and what extracurricular activities they participated in.”
Grades are taken into consideration: a minimum 3.5 GPA is required for high school students, 3.3 for Running Start students. “Grades are important, but we give a lot of consideration to a student’s personal statement,” said King. “We recognize that students have different lived experiences and wanted to honor that in our process.”
The committee is also focusing on students who attended high schools that are part of the Pathways to Promise (P2P) partnership. Students in P2P schools are guaranteed admission to UW Tacoma if they meet specific criteria. “We really wanted to strengthen that partnership,” said Wilson.
Each student in the cohort will have their own tailored plan that fits their interests. Even so, many in the group will have classes together. “The majority of our pre-engineering students are all taking an introduction to engineering course together,” said King. “The idea is to build community and to help students get comfortable being on campus.”
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