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By Ralph Derickson

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The program currently enrolls 120 students, and four students have already completed degree requirements in mechanical engineering.

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Oct. 27, 2000 – (Lexington, Ky.) – The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees has approved mechanical and chemical engineering bachelor degree programs for its extended campus site in Paducah, Ky.

The engineering degree program is a cooperative effort of Murray State University, Paducah Community College, and UK.

One hundred and twenty students are currently enrolled in the program and four students have already completed the degree requirements in mechanical engineering and will receive their UK diplomas very soon, said Thomas Lester, UK engineering dean.  He said the first four graduates were actually recognized at UK's Spring 2000 commencement in anticipation of today's approval of the degree program.

Dean Lester made his first exploratory trip to Paducah 10 years ago to plan the western Kentucky engineering program.  In 1996, the Kentucky General Assembly budgeted $1.4 million to support a Kentucky Council on Higher Education resolution calling for UK, Paducah Community College and Murray State University to establish the accredited engineering program for western Kentucky.

"The Paducah engineering degree program will enable UK to sustain the current economic base in western Kentucky and to support initiatives that will broaden that base," Lester commented.

The degree program will be submitted to the Council on Postsecondary Education, but Lester said the UK Board's action is all that is officially required to formalize the degree program.

Eight UK faculty members and five jointly appointed Murray State University faculty members teach the engineering courses.  Dr. William Murphy is the director of the engineering program at UK's extended campus site at Paducah Community College.  Students in the engineering program earn their first two years of credit at PCC.

Lester said he believes the enrollment in the Paducah engineering program will grow to 200 and generate 50 graduates each year.

The UK College of Engineering is involved in other statewide engineering initiatives that would extend engineering opportunities to other regions of the state in joint degree programs with comprehensive universities.  Such initiatives, under Council on Postsecondary Education direction, would integrate engineering education at other levels of education including the Kentucky Virtual University and kindergarten-twelfth grade classes.

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