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The Sky’s No Limit for Newest UA Engineering Students

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The Sky’s No Limit for Newest UA Engineering Students

Dec. 5, 2014
UA College of Engineering fall 2014 freshman class includes an Arizona Wildcats football player and a licensed pilot.

The University of Arizona College of Engineering freshman class -- with standouts from the airfield to the football field -- is as diverse, talented and tenacious as ever.

Leah Kaplan (front, in red), an Engineering and Honors College student in biomedical engineering and communications, is shown here with the “US-Be-Engineers” team at the 2014 Solar Oven Throw Down, a signature event for College of Engineering freshmen. Her group won an award for its teamwork from W.L. Gore & Associates, one of many companies supporting UA Engineering students.

Of the 601 students in the class of 2018, women comprise 29 percent -- well above the national average of 20 percent of women graduating from engineering schools. More than a third, 35 percent, of UA Engineering freshmen belong to a racial or ethnic minority, and 21 percent are Hispanic. Many in the class are the first in their family to attend college.

“The College of Engineering is committed to maintaining and growing a diverse student body that reflects global viewpoints, ensuring its programs are connected to real-world problems, and providing all students with professional opportunities while they are here,” said Jeff Goldberg, dean of the College.

Freshman Fortitude

UA Engineering freshmen also display great tenacity: 91 percent of the fall 2013 entering class was still enrolled a year later in fall 2014.

“That’s remarkable when you consider that the freshman engineering curriculum is one of the most challenging, with required courses in calculus, chemistry and physics,” Goldberg said.

The College’s supportive community is one reason so many students stay the course.

“I applied to several universities across the United States looking for the perfect place to study biomedical engineering,” said Victoria Lantzy of the San Francisco Bay Area. “The UA has delivered on the ‘Big School’ experience with its many sporting events, while also maintaining a close-knit community in the College of Engineering. There are so many people here truly committed to my success.”

Another draw is the abundance of research and work opportunities. College of Engineering freshmen are working with faculty on major research projects -- to develop new biomedical and mine-safety technologies, for example -- and a large proportion of Engineering students are successful in securing internships with local and national companies.

“Today’s students come to engineering with an amazing breadth of interests and backgrounds,” said Armin Sorooshian, assistant professor and freshman adviser in chemical and environmental engineering. “Many are looking to build their skills in diverse disciplines in engineering, environmental science and medicine, to name just a few. The University gives them the resources and opportunities to explore them all.”

Class of Many Talents

It’s an academically strong class, too. The average high school GPA for the College of Engineering’s incoming 2014 class was 3.70, with more than a third of the freshmen Engineering students enrolled in the Honors College. And the College’s newest students have excelled far beyond academics.

At Phoenix’s Thunderbird High School, Jake Glatting was a football, basketball and track star, an all-state honoree as a punter and his team’s Most Valuable Player. Now, he’s a National Football Foundation First Team Scholar-Athlete playing for the Arizona Wildcats.

“Balancing athletics with the rigors of the Engineering curriculum is surely a challenge,” he said. “I usually spend about four hours at the stadium every day for practice and meetings. But my schedule is easier than for some of the other guys, because I haven’t been traveling with the team this semester. And I get a lot of help from the University’s CATS Academics program and the College of Engineering’s advising and tutoring services.”

First-year student Micaehla May, from the San Francisco Bay Area, is training to compete in the trapshooting competition at the 2020 Olympics.

“Trapshooting is demanding, but my education will always take priority,” she said. “Life is like dynamic equilibrium: to stay at the optimum point, you need to constantly balance various factors.”

Eugenia Anane-Wae earned her pilot’s license while attending Phoenix’s South Mountain High School and is now studying aerospace and mechanical engineering. The national winner of the 2014 Marshall-Brennan National High School Moot Court Competition, she hopes to follow her engineering degree with a law degree, for a career in space law.

“Having an engineering perspective could give me insights other lawyers may not have,” she said.

A Growing College and University

Total enrollment in the UA College of Engineering has grown to 3,327, including 2,627 undergraduates and 700 graduate students, with international graduate student enrollment at 65 percent.

As a whole more students than ever before -- 40,000-plus -- are enrolled in the University of Arizona. UA students who belong to racial and ethnic minority groups make up 41 percent of its largest-ever freshman class of 7,800. And increasing numbers of students are choosing STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and math.

Top picture: Eugenia Anane-Wae emerges from the cockpit after her first solo flight as a pilot.