New Report Says Engineering Degree 'Critical' for Region's Future Economy; Suggests FGCU Implement Five Additional Academic Programs
FORT MYERS, FL - A newly-released 38-page study from a team of national consultants ranked five proposed degree programs for consideration by the Florida Gulf Coast University’s Board of Trustees to help spur future economic development in Southwest Florida.
Based on national economic and job market data, nearly 150 interviews in January, and criteria such as market need, cost, capabilities and duplication, the consultation team ranked several engineering disciplines first, followed by an expansion of the nursing program.
Geographic information systems, real estate development track MBA and construction management completed the list.
Within the engineering field, the priorities are software engineering, environmental engineering, and engineering management and biotechnology engineering.
The report said even among positive indicators, there are concerns about economic growth and the character of the employment base in the Charlotte, Collier and Lee area. Household median income trails the national average in Lee and Charlotte, and all three counties have added disproportionate numbers of service jobs or “back office” positions that do not require advanced levels of education and typically offer salaries less than the national average.
The consultation team reports that only 1.25 percent of all employment in the Fort Myers area is high-tech related. Tallahassee leads Florida with 8 percent.
It is this deficiency that the consultation team says engineering at FGCU will address.
“Southwest Florida will not reverse its inadequate high technology position unless FGCU adds engineering programs,” the report says. “Every metropolitan region in the country with a population larger than Southwest Florida has an accredited university engineering program within its region. Putting this a different way, Southwest Florida is the largest metropolitan region in the United States not to host an accredited engineering program.”
“Indeed, a nationally recognized economic development authority told us that, “No region can go anywhere economically in the 21st century without a strong engineering base.”
The consultation team sought to find what academic majors and research emphases would serve student demands, gradually change the mix of jobs in the region and move the region’s median household income above the national average.
“Engineering will ignite the entrepreneurial spirit of the area - creating a boom-with-a-conscience, fostering innovation and prosperity,” Computer Science and Information Systems chairman Walter Rodriguez said.
The three members of the consultation team were: professor of economics and president emeritus of Old Dominion University James V. Koch; vice president for Research and Information Technology at the Florida Institute of Technology Robert L. Sullivan; and vice president for Administration and Finance at Towson University David F. Harnage.
For more information, contact associate vice president for Community Relations Audrea Anderson a (239) 590-1083 or view the report at