The technology sector in Utah is growing, but there might not be enough engineering graduates to fill the increased demand.
“There’s been a tremendous growth in high-tech industry in the state of Utah,” the University of Utah’s College of Engineering Dean Richard Brown said. “I believe that the growth in engineering and computer science graduates is one of the reasons that companies move to Utah. One of the things they have to be concerned about is whether they can find the workforce.”
Over the last 15 years, the number of high-tech companies in the state has tripled to almost 5,000. A survey of 40 of those tech companies showed a need for more than 500 engineers. Those same companies expect to reach almost 2,000 job openings by next year.
That’s not to say that engineering interest is on the decline in Utah universities. In fact, interest has risen, Brown said, but that still might not be enough.
“We’ve had a big growth in engineering at the University of Utah over the past 10 or 15 years,” Brown said. “We’ve actually more than doubled the number of engineers and computer scientists who are graduating from our programs.”
But having graduates from one university is not enough. Industry leaders have requested a $5 million grant from the state Legislature to help state engineering programs crank out more graduates.
“We’ve gone from 7 percent of the incoming freshmen saying they were going into engineering to 14 percent,” Brown said.