The fall 2012 engineering freshman class is the largest since the first engineering freshman walked up the steps of Old Main at the University of Arizona 120 years ago, and includes record numbers of women and Hispanic students.
"We're bringing to the university a high-quality group, a more diverse group, and a larger group of freshman engineering students than ever before," said College of Engineering Dean Jeff Goldberg. "We're educating them in a way that increases both learning and motivation, and we're helping to meet the engineering needs of Arizona and the nation."
Freshman enrollment increased 20 percent over last fall, to 670 students, with women making up 28 percent and minorities representing 36 percent of incoming engineering students. Hispanic students count for 24 percent of the freshman engineering class, paralleling a new norm that counts Hispanics as the largest group of minority students on campuses nationwide.
As impressive as the numbers of incoming freshmen is their academic strength. The average high school grade point average, or GPA, for engineering freshmen is 3.69 out of 4, and the average math and verbal SAT score is 1,243. In fact, the academic quality of the College's freshmen has steadily improved over the last decade, even as national SAT scores trended down. The SAT is a voluntary math, reading, and writing test used in college
The quality of undergraduates entering UA engineering is no accident, said Jim Baygents, associate dean of academic affairs for the College of Engineering.
"We believe quality comes first, and we recruit and admit accordingly," he said. "As the academic programs offered by our faculty and staff have continued to improve, so too have the students who populate them. We value their interest in engineering, and we take their training seriously. We see their development as individuals and professionals as an important part of our mission."
Baygents said that in the last two years, UA engineering freshmen completed their first year of study with an average GPA of 3.0, an outstanding achievement given the challenge of first-year calculus, physics, chemistry, biology and computer programming classes.
"The character and diligence required from students for the demands of these classes will pay dividends throughout their academic and professional careers," he said. "The students continue to perform well and impress in the classroom. These remarkable young people will contribute ideas, products, processes, technologies and infrastructure that will improve the human condition, and make the world a better place for us to live."
Students new to the program attribute their enthusiasm and success to a supportive and inclusive environment.
"Our community is a tight-knit group of students who are lucky enough to have a great faculty always there to support us," said engineering freshman Abigail L. Davidson, a member of the UA student chapter of the national Society of Women Engineers and a resident of the College's Engineering Zone dormitory. "I am absolutely loving my freshman experience here at the UA."
Adriana Parra, an aerospace engineering freshman and student member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, echoed Davidson's sentiments. "I never thought my freshman year would be such a delightful experience," she said, adding, "My favorite part so far is the diversity on campus."
Student enrollment at the University of Arizona this year topped 40,000 for the first time, and one-year retention rates increased from 77.2 percent in 2011 to 80.2 percent this year. The UA welcomed about 7,450 freshmen -- up more than 150 from last year.
Engineering Freshmen Data Chart