Next year, students majoring in the aviation technology and technology and engineering education (TEE) programs at USU will graduate from the College of Agriculture rather than the College of Engineering, said Kurt Becker, department head of engineering and technology education.
"Student's diplomas will look exactly the same," Becker said. "The only difference is going to be the color of their tassel in the future. This year, all those students that are currently in the program will still walk with the College of Engineering, but starting next year they'll walk with the College of Agriculture."
Bruce Miller, department head of agricultural systems technology and education, said, and Becker agreed, the move only changes administrative structuring. The teachers, classrooms and requirements will remain the same.
Miller said the move corresponds with the creation of the School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education (SASTE) two years ago within the College of Agriculture.
The SASTE was created partly to extend applied science programs to USU's distance education campuses, such as USU Eastern in Price, Utah, Miller said. Because of its name and size, Miller said the SASTE is a better fit for aviation technology and TEE.
"In the aviation program, there's a bachelor of science degree in mechanics, and we have an agricultural mechanics here," Miller said. "So there's actually overlap in what they're doing — more in this program than with mechanical engineering or some of the other engine-based programs."
He said aviation is a technology-based program, not "pure engineering," and the melding of the programs and department with the college was a way to better organize things.
"That's a cadre of pre-service teacher training that is all brought under one umbrella in the same academic unit," Miller said.
The process of moving the three programs from the College of Engineering to the College of Agriculture began last summer, Becker said, and the documentation went through several committees before the Board of Trustees officially approved it on Jan. 6.
"For the College of Engineering, it worked well," Becker said. "We took those students and moved them out of the college. At the same time, computer sciences became part of the College of Engineering, so we just swapped there."
Becker said the size of the College of Engineering hasn't changed much, and the research expenditures will go up because computer science is more research intensive, but, overall, the move is productive, he said.
"The faculty seems to be on board. They think it's a good fit, for the most part. Everybody thought it was a good move," Becker said.
Miller said faculty members at the College of Agriculture are excited about the move because they can see how the technology programs fit with their teacher-education program.
Currently, USU offers a four-year program for aspiring pilots as well as a four-year program for aviation maintenance and management within the aviation technology department. Nearly 200 students are enrolled in the aviation technology program.
Spencer Christensen, a third-year aviation technology major, studying to be a pilot, said he isn't bothered by the move, even though others have questioned it.
"It was a little surprising, at first, changing over to (the College of) Agriculture," Christensen said. "But from all the things I've heard, it's really positive. I don't think there will be a lot of changes up front.
"Engineering is a big research college, and we're kind of more applied science. I kind of hope that the change will allow our program to grow a little bit more and be a little bit more recognized on campus."
Christensen said he hopes this change will be a draw for more students to enroll in his and similar majors within the college.
"In some ways, the separation is a little difficult, in that I'm losing those colleagues that I've been working with and I feel strongly about and have good relationships with," Becker said. "In that regard, it's kind of sad, but it's just part of the process. Ag will be great to those new people. They have a good family down there, too."