When it comes to shaping the future, Dr. Chance Glenn is starting at the foundation: with the men and women who will engineer it.
“The future is what is important,” said Glenn, dean for Alabama A&M University’s College of Engineering, Technology, and Physical Sciences. “I’m proud that we’re part of building the future. We are in a position now – all of us, the society we live in, particularly North Alabama – to determine what kind of society we want to live in. These students who are coming through these doors are the key to what that society is going to look like and how it’s going to operate. We have the opportunity to influence that, and that’s great – and we’re going to have the opportunity to live in it once it’s realized.”
That influence reaches about 1,200 students enrolled within the college – A&M has an enrollment of 6,000-plus, Glenn said – who are studying subjects such as civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry and math. A historically black college or university, A&M is leading the way for Alabama when it comes to adding diversity to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and looks to add even more opportunities for students. Goals for 2019 include launching masters degrees in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering this fall, and diving further into things like cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality and additive manufacturing.
Come May, the college will gain international exposure as the AAMU Motorsports team will compete at Formula SAE Michigan, a competition that challenges undergraduate and graduate students from across the world to build their own racecar. A&M is one of 120 teams registered, and one of the few HBCUs to participate. Students began recruiting their team in September, and are now in the process of physically creating their car.
“We are stepping up our efforts,” Glenn said. “This whole notion of STEM education has become very, very critical nationwide. As you expand and look at diversity and STEM education, in the intersection of those two things, we as a university and College of Engineering, Technology, and Physical Sciences, sit right in the middle of that.
“We lead the state in the number of African Americans who get STEM degrees here. Just about 45 or so percent in our college are female. We are contributing in those key areas of diversity for STEM education. That’s a big deal.”
The college’s efforts, a “continuous march of progress and activity” have not gone unnoticed, as Glenn sees graduates attracting job offers from notable companies not only in the Rocket City, but outside the region as well. The program has seen six straight years of growth in enrollment.
“We’ve been building for growth, but now we’re investing in quality – quality in the student population, quality in the faculty and staff,” Glenn said. “That’s the investment we’re making. It’s not just getting more and more numbers, it’s about what we’re producing.”
And the proof is in the students, like Morgen Glenn, Rebecca, Glenn, Arbion Harrell, Adedotun Ayokanmbi and Joshua Seals, who are all pursuing degrees in a STEM field at A&M, and offered this advice for budding scientists and engineers.
“Don’t do it for the money, do it because it’s your passion,” Seals said.
“Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, and don’t worry about what other people think,” Rebecca Glenn said. “Try to stand out.”