New Gator Engineering @ Santa Fe Program Brings More Talent Into UF by Reinventing the Freshman Year

In News by Jon Silman

A new collaboration between the University of Florida and Santa Fe College will expand enrollment for freshmen going into the College of Engineering.

The program is called Gator Engineering @ Santa Fe, and it’s the brainchild of UF engineering dean Cammy Abernathy and numerous members of logistical departments from both institutions. The program will have its initial run this fall.

“This is momentous for Gator Engineering,” Abernathy said in a news release. “We are transforming the way we approach admissions and education in order to meet the demands of both students and employers. … This is truly a win-win for all.”

The hybrid program will offer four bachelor of science degrees: electrical engineering, computer science, computer engineering and digital arts and sciences. It’s tailored toward students who want to enter the college of engineering but might not meet the requirements for admission into UF.

Most participants would be classified as UF students after one semester, and after a third — if they meet all the tracking requirements — will be on the UF campus full-time, with no transfer applications required. Subsequent UF classes transfer back to SF College, and the students are awarded AA degrees.

According to enrollment numbers given by the college, for the 2012-13 school year, the engineering college received 3,716 applications, made 1,831 offers, and accepted 1,276 freshmen. This disparity is one of the main reasons the program was created.

“The majors offered in this program — there’s such a demand for them in the workforce, and there’s a limited capacity for increasing the number of freshmen (at UF),” said Angela Lindner, associate dean for undergraduate student affairs. “It’s incredibly competitive.”

Linder explained that the average weighted GPA for incoming freshmen is in the area of 4.2 and 4.3. Given that, there is still a high number of “very, very good” students who can enter the engineering college. That’s where Gator Engineering @ Santa Fe comes in. The program will initially accept 50 students, Linder said, and hopes to reach as many as 200 in future semesters.

The students, though taking classes at SF College, will essentially be UF students after successful completion of all mandatory courses — usually around the second semester.

This makes the students in the program different from a traditional transfer student who has to apply for admission into UF, Linder said.

She said it took about two and a half years to get the program ready to start, with much back and forth between SF College and UF.

Members of the admissions departments at both institutions, along with the financial aid departments, all met and hashed things out, she said.

“What’s left me amazed at this whole process is the openness and willingness of everyone,” she said. “They rolled up their shirtsleeves and sat for three-hour meetings. It’s a fine example of collaboration coming to fruition.”

One of the concerns on SF College’s part, she said, was completion of degrees, so the two universities worked out the plan where students would get AA degrees from SF College in addition to UF diplomas.

“Everybody wins,” she said. “Especially the students.”


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