TWIN FALLS • Steve Browne chipped away at a college degree, taking one or two classes each semester.
While a part-time student at the College of Southern Idaho, he also worked two jobs.
Browne, 31, decided to work toward a career that sparks his interest.
“I kind of liked electronics as a hobby, and I tried to be an electrician at one point, and I could never even get my foot in the door,” he said.
Browne is among more than a dozen CSI students who graduated Friday with associate’s degrees in engineering.
Browne, who chose electrical engineering, plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in the field from Boise State University. He’ll move to the Treasure Valley before next school year starts.
“I just need to organize a moving party to get there,” he said.
Browne said if he can find an engineering-related apprenticeship or job while he’s in school, “that would be ideal.”
CSI’s engineering program has grown over the past few years, professor Bill Eberlein said. This year’s graduating class is the largest in recent history, likely because the local cost of living and CSI tuition both are low, Eberlein said.
Also, the college is getting a reputation of allowing students to be “very well prepared to transfer and successfully complete their bachelor’s degree.,” he said. Four-year universities in Idaho “really like to see CSI graduates show up,” and they recruit from the college.
Engineering will be the third most in-demand degree among employers by 2018, says a recent Idaho Business for Education report that used a survey of employers statewide.
Nationally, the number of electrical engineering jobs is projected to grow by 4 percent between 2012 and 2022 – a slower rate than average, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A bachelor’s degree is required for an entry-level job. The median pay was $89,630 per year in 2012.
CSI engineering students can choose from six tracks — agriculture, civil, chemical, mechanical, electrical and computer.
The largest class, with more than 40 students, usually is Introduction to Engineering. Upper-level classes have fewer students.
Also, within the math, engineering and computer science department, “we are small enough that can coordinate when we teach things,” he said.