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LMU’s new engineering program brings STEM opportunities to rural Appalachia

The school of engineering will have its first semester in Fall 2022.

CLAIBORNE COUNTY, Tenn. — Lincoln Memorial University will offer an engineering program for students in rural Appalachia in the Fall 2022 semester.

Ryan Overton is the dean of the School of Engineering.

He visits schools across East Tennessee to get students excited about the engineering field.

“For so long, I think that people of Appalachia have been overlooked, just as a population as a whole,” Overton said. “I grew up on a farm in East Tennessee, milking Holstein dairy cows, getting up in the morning doing bottlecaps before school.”

Overton said there were no opportunities close to his home in Claiborne County to pursue a career in STEM, but starting in Fall 2022, kids in Claiborne County and rural Appalachia can keep their families close while pursuing a career in STEM.

“I think we're going to have support here to develop those students into really good engineers,” he said. “Civil engineers design the infrastructure for the world, our buildings, our roads, our bridges… and for our economy to continue to grow we will always be investing in that infrastructure.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be 25,000 engineering jobs every year for the next 10 years.

“You come in, get a four-year degree, and when you're 22, you're going straight into the engineering field,” Overton said. “No doubt about it college costs money, but you've got to balance the return that you expect.”

The average starting salary for engineers is $60,000 a year.

Overton hopes the LMU School of Engineering will keep STEM-seeking students at home in Claiborne County.

“I think that this will be a chance with the school of engineering to really improve the quality of life for the people in this area,” he said.

Anyone with an interest in the engineering field can email Overton directly at Ryan.Overton@LMUnet.edu .

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