Only a couple weeks ago, the University of Mary graduated its first class of engineering students, highlighting a new opportunity for students to earn an engineering degree in western North Dakota.
Since 2010, two of every three new North Dakotans have moved to western North Dakota, totaling more than 55,000 new residents and largely due to the growth of the Bakken. Such growth has obviously demanded significant new investments in transportation, water infrastructure and K-12 school systems. The University of Mary is serving a similar gap caused by our expanding population and economy whereby our state needs new opportunities in education closer to hometown communities and the job market after graduation. Consider for a moment, that the closest two choices for a young adult in Dickinson seeking a degree in civil engineering were previously limited to North Dakota State University (4.25 hours) and South Dakota School of Mines (3.5 hours).
While both are great schools (the latter is my own alma mater), more choice will only breed more opportunity to recruit young adults from the region into engineering, encourage out-of-state students to move to North Dakota, and connect all students with companies in western North Dakota.
The University of Mary has set bold goals for itself that are based on meeting the needs of our region. I appreciate its leadership and congratulate it for graduating its first class of engineers.
Brian J. Zuroff, Bismarck