CARLSBAD — The city has had plans to bring a higher education institution to the empty Farmer’s Insurance building on Faraday Avenue for about two years.
On Tuesday, councilmembers approved entering into an exclusive agreement with the Rochester Institute of Technology, which is based in New York and is looking into opening a satellite school in Carlsbad.
RIT has three satellite schools throughout the world.
RIT Provost Jeremy Haefner is meeting with business and educational leaders in the region to find out if the city is a good fit for a master’s program and if there is enough demand.
U 3 Advisors Consultant Steven Jacobs told the council RIT is a good fit because of its highly recognized programs in fields that are vital to the Carlsbad economy, like computer engineering and aerospace.
If RIT staff decides Carlsbad is a good fit, three master’s programs will be offered, a Master’s of Science in Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Sustainable Engineering.
More programs would be added based on the success of the program and the market need.
Haefner said after meeting with local businesses, he’s already seen a need for a degree in cyber security.
“We have a very strong program at the federal center in cyber security that would be very attractive,” Haefner said.
Local businesses that provided input include ThermoFisher Scientific, ViaSat, Interknowlogy, Jethead Development and Palomar Technology.
The Master’s program would likely serve between 120 to 180 students annually which means the satellite school could produce about 1,000 graduates in engineering and applied science in the next decade.
Jacobs told the council the school could increase local economic output by about $2.5 million.
Haefner is meeting with leaders from other higher education institutions in the region including MiraCosta Community College, Cal State San Marcos and the University of California San Diego to discuss possible partnerships.
Haefner told the council RIT focuses heavily on engineering, technology, math and science but also has extremely strong art and design programs.
“We have really this left brain/ right brain DNA and we integrate them in really interesting ways,” Haefner said.
RIT is a leader in career placement, according to Jacobs.
“RIT is a national leader in cooperative education,” said Jacobs. “RIT is certainly in the top echelon.”
There overall placement of graduates into careers is 95 percent.
Cooperative education refers to internships. Many students spend five years at RIT to spend their final year in the work force.
Of those who do internships, 63 percent are offered a full-time job.
The exclusive agreement allows RIT staff to “dive deeper” into the process, Haefner said, preventing Carlsbad from speaking with any other universities. Of the 12 schools that expressed interest, three submitted proposals.
The other two included Arizona State University and Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Arizona State University withdrew their interest in the process due to other strategic priorities on the part of their engineering school, according to the staff report.
The location of the school will be at the empty Farmer’s Insurance building on the corner of Faraday Avenue and El Camino Real. The building has been empty for 15 years and the city owns it.
Mayor Matt Hall said he’s excited for the school.
“I think this is going to be much, much bigger than any of us could wildly imagine,” Hall said.