AUGUSTA (AP) – An engineering education partnership between the University of Maine and Bowdoin College, which will create a five-year program giving graduates two degrees, was announced Tuesday by Gov. John Baldacci and the two schools’ presidents.

Under the program, students will study liberal arts for three years at Bowdoin followed by two in engineering at UMaine. Those who complete the program will get degrees from both schools. A central goal of the program is to meet Maine’s demand for engineers, with the side benefit of keeping them in the state.

Baldacci, who made the announcement in his State House office with UMaine President Robert Kennedy and Bowdoin President Barry Mills, said the new alliance not only strengthens the two schools, but also empowers the state and students.

“For talented students seeking a top-notch engineering program and a liberal arts education, there will now be every reason to stay right here in Maine,” said Mills.

UMaine and Bowdoin hope to start enrolling students in the program starting in the fall of 2008. Bowdoin has similar “3-2” engineering partnerships with three other schools: CalTech, Columbia and Dartmouth.

Students signing up in the new program with UMaine will initially be limited to three programs: biological engineering, mechanical engineering and engineering physics. But the program gradually will be extended to the university’s other four engineering programs.

Kennedy said the partnership stemmed from a conversation he and Mills had at Bowdoin nearly a year ago.

“We met for the first time that day, and just kind of began developing some ideas about ways to work together,” Kennedy said in prepared remarks. The agreement as it has developed will allow the two schools to “capitalize on complementary strengths.”

Kennedy said the agreement partners Bowdoin, “a storied institution, with a long history of providing outstanding undergraduate education,” with UMaine, where engineering has been a cornerstone since its founding in 1865. Kennedy pronounced UMaine “delighted” with the arrangement.

UMaine has signed on to joint projects with other schools as recently as last November, when the University of New England announced a plan to open a college of pharmacy in Portland and operate it in partnership with the University of Maine and hospitals in four Maine cities.

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