The University of Oklahoma (OU) has announced plans to develop a polytechnic institute in Tulsa. Joe Harroz, president of the university, said the new institute will offer degree programs in areas including computer science, information technology, digital manufacturing, electric vehicles, artificial intelligence and autonomous technology.
The inspiration to create OU’s new Polytechnic Institute came from the transformation of one of Purdue University’s largest colleges nearly a decade ago into Purdue Polytechnic Institute, Harroz said.
The OU aims to both increase transfer student enrollment from regional community colleges and improve the university’s ability to provide area employers with the workforce they need.
“We check every box to be a good place to come. And then it’s like, ‘Can you provide the manpower for these tech-specific jobs?’ And it’s the hard stop for all of them. So it’s an effort to address that issue,” Harroz said. “We don’t even have enough to meet the needs of the businesses we have right now, but the schools that have done this well are becoming magnets for those businesses to come to the state.”
Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, vice president for research and partnerships at the University of Oklahoma, served at Purdue as chief scientific officer and senior vice president for strategic initiatives from 2015 to 2019 — the first four years of Purdue Polytechnic Institute after its transformation from the College of Technology. Díaz de la Rubia’s time at Purdue also coincided with the first three of five consecutive all-time high enrollment years at Purdue Polytechnic.
“It was to fill this gap in the types of graduates universities are creating in applied science and technology. Graduates who have a highly experiential and project-based education can enter directly into the job market with high-paying jobs to implement and apply cutting-edge technologies, which are transforming businesses today,” said Díaz of the Rubia. “It also impacts the state of Indiana, and that’s part of our vision here. They are able to recruit a lot of students, obviously from Indiana but also from all over the country. Very early in their course, they work with companies on specific projects.
Díaz de la Rubia noted that the applied sciences taught at Purdue Polytechnic are preparing a workforce for “the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
“It’s a brain gain by bringing these students to school, and it’s a retention mechanism because of the very, very close connection between business and the Polytechnic Institute,” he said. “A lot of students – because their education is tied very intimately, very closely to local businesses – when they graduate, they tend to go and work in those businesses. They remain in the state.
See the full NonDoc story by Tres Savage and the Tulsa World story by Tim Stanley.