Canyon ISD partners with West Texas A&M University to expand advanced program


Laura Gill

Juniors and seniors will be able to take engineering courses through the Pre-University Program at West Texas A&M University. “One of the things about the College of Engineering at WT is we practice what we call human-centered engineering,” Dr. Emily Hunt, WT Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics Dean, said. “We believe that once we have developed these skills over the course of our education–engineering and hard work–you develop a skill set that impacts humanity directly. We have a responsibility to use the skills we have received and developed over time to make a difference for people.”

The Pre-University Program will be adding four West Texas A&M University engineering courses to the list of classes offered in the 2021-2022 school year.

The PUP allows students to earn college credit while in high school. Courses are transferable at $150 per class, with students earning three hours of college credit for each course taken. Students can speak with their counselors to determine their eligibility for the program.

“You would come out of this program with 12 hours of college credit toward engineering,” said Dr. Emily Hunt, WT Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics Dean. “These courses are in what’s called the State Common Course Numbering System for engineering programs in the state of Texas. So these will count directly toward a degree.”

This is a good opportunity. It’s new–not just in this area–but across the state.

— Dr. Emily Hunt, WT Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics Dean

Hunt said the four courses will apply to any degree of engineering, whether it be nuclear, mechanical or civil.

“We have freshmen in college who are taking this course with you,” Hunt said. “The whole idea behind this track is that you have a jumpstart on studying engineering, or figuring out if engineering is something you might be interested in. It’s a really unique opportunity to be able to figure that out while you’re still in high school so that when you go to college, you have an idea of what you want to study.”

Hunt said students in upper-level math courses should consider enrolling in PUP engineering even if they are not sure they want a degree in engineering.

“We’re excited to have you guys on campus,” Hunt said. “We’re working with your school to pick the exact time of day for you to be able to go, but we are excited to get to know some of you. This is a good opportunity. It’s new–not just in this area–but across the state, so we’re excited to be some of the first ones to do this.”

Canyon ISD Director of Secondary Education Mark Hamil said having a qualified doctor of engineering work with students is a unique opportunity since the district does not offer many hands-on engineering courses.

“Our teachers at both Randall and Canyon High do a really good job in preparing students to go into the engineering program,” Hamil said. “Engineering is a very difficult course to find qualified teachers for. A lot of people who would have that skill set are engineers and are out in the field, so it’s really difficult for us to find teachers who can teach those courses to that level.”

Our teachers at both Randall and Canyon High do a really good job in preparing students to go into the engineering program.

— Mark Hamil, CISD Director of Secondary Education

Hamil said the program is an opportunity for students to be able to go on campus and take courses at WT.

“The first semester course is actually a computer programming course in engineering,” Hamil said. “The second semester is engineering graphics. The second semester for the seniors is a direct currents and alternating currents component, so it’s hands on. They get college credit from WT for two years, and from the district, they get four class credits.”

The program will function like a dual credit class. Students in the program will receive a full credit from Canyon High in a one-semester class at West Texas A&M University. Administrators are currently working on how this will affect students’ GPAs. 

“It’s something I’m probably going to do,” sophomore Mark Pinkerton said. “It’s going to help me get into the college I want. I’ll get a little bit of a taste of what college is like–how you’re expected to be, and how the professors teach.”

The classes of 2022 and 2023 will be the first students offered the option of taking engineering courses through PUP.

“It’s going to make you more marketable to colleges and universities,” Pinkerton said. “The students are going to already know some of the things they need to know. If you get a student who already has practice in a sport, say they’ve been playing basketball for six years, you’d rather have that person on your varsity team than someone who just started playing.”