Opinion Columns & Blogs

Another View: Sacramento already has a college

The call for a transformative public investment in Sacramento is on target as regional leaders attempt to boost economic and workforce development under the Next Economy initiative.

But Joe Mathews’ pitch for a Cal Poly Sacramento instead of a new downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings is not the either-or choice we envision (“Build Cal Poly campus, not a downtown arena,” Viewpoints, Nov. 21). A new arena would revitalize Sacramento’s urban core, and the region already has a California State University with the track record, industry connections and academic excellence. It is Sacramento State.

Sacramento State’s nationally recognized, industry-backed construction management program in the College of Engineering and Computer Science is one example of how an existing program benefits the region.

Last month, Department of Construction Management students won the Design-Build Institute of America’s national championship, dominating finalists from Auburn and Colorado State universities. That victory follows Sacramento State’s big October win over seven universities at the Associated Schools of Construction’s inaugural Healthcare Preconstruction Competition in Chicago.

Sacramento State’s engineering juggernaut extends to other fields, too. Civil engineering students won first place at the recent Structural Engineers Association of Central California structural-design competition. These victories underscore the value we already provide: Our polytechnic graduates find high-paying jobs.

Sacramento State’s alumni have worked on Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Sacramento International Airport’s Terminal B, and Sutter Health’s Anderson Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center. Regionally, about 500 graduates work at Intel in Folsom. Another 200 work at Aerojet Rocketdyne in Rancho Cordova, or 10 percent of its local workforce. And of the dozens of alumni at Sacramento Municipal Utility District, many are Sacramento State power engineering graduates. Additionally, 100 percent of construction management graduates for the past two years have found jobs.

If we heed Mathews’ call for investing in public higher education, these returns will grow more.

Sacramento State long has needed a new science and math building to replace an aging structure built in 1967, the year hand-held calculators hit the market. One outdated science lab has been closed due to safety concerns, contributing to a bottleneck in student access to introductory chemistry classes.

A proposed $87 million science and lab facility for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics would enhance the courses that lead to science, engineering and technology careers.

Such an investment is one the entire region could and should get behind – an investment that, in the short run, would create jobs and, in the long run, provide generations of science and math students with a 21st-century education that would help them drive economic growth and build the Next Economy.