Imagination + Innovation = Smart Solutions: Responding to Unprecedented Growth in Northern Nevada

After being hard-hit by the recession, Nevada's economic recovery has taken off.

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, or EDAWN, projects up to 10,000 jobs to be added annually in Northern Nevada over the next five years, as companies expand or relocate to the region.

Many of those companies will be looking to employ engineers - a need that could continue to grow in the future as Nevada's economy diversifies away from gaming and tourism to advanced manufacturing, cyber security, autonomous systems and more.

The College of Engineering has developed a systematic approach to training highly qualified engineers ready to meet the workforce needs of a new Nevada.

Building a Pipeline

Graph showing rising number of K-12 students reached

Preparing tomorrow's engineers starts in the K-12 classroom, where students develop interest in technology and the built environment. Early introduction of engineering concepts can raise awareness and encourage children to stick with the math and science courses that prepare them for an engineering major.

The College of Engineering's K-12 outreach program includes

  • The Mobile Engineering Education Lab brings engineering students to local classrooms to teach lessons.
  • MESA partners college tutors with area middle and high school students in a year-long STEM achievement program for underrepresented student groups.
  • Summer camps bring over 100 campers annually onto campus.
  • Engineering education program educates future teachers about introducing engineering in the K-12 classroom.

Producing Graduates

Graph showing rising number of graduates in engineering

With a globally competitive engineering education, our graduates are equipped to go anywhere in the world. But many choose to stay in Northern Nevada, where a growing high-tech industry and quality of life make engineering careers attractive.

In addition to our eight undergraduate majors, minors and certificate programs in seven specialized fields - all designed in accordance with industry needs and employment opportunities - allow our graduates to customize the broad base of knowledge obtained in their major with specific career-oriented training.

Workforce Needs of a Growing and Diversifying Region

According to EDAWN, Northern Nevada's new jobs are expected to be heavily concentrated in advanced manufacturing, accounting for 53 percent of the job growth. Another 7 percent will come from computing firms and data centers.

More than 60 companies located to Northern Nevada in 2013 and 2014. Here's a snapshot of four of those companies.


Tesla is building a massive factory in Northern Nevada to manufacture lithium ion batteries. The Gigafactory, which is expected to begin production in 2017, seeks to become the largest lithium ion battery producer in the world and is projected to employ 930 engineers and senior staff.

Chemical engineering students

The College of Engineering's new batteries and energy storage technologies minor includes courses from every department in the College of Engineering to educate students in the fundamentals of technology, assembly, manufacturing and troubleshooting a wide range of battery systems.


The Australian start-up focused on commercial delivery by drone relocated to Reno last fall and partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno and NAASIC. Flirtey made headlines in July for performing the first FAA-approved drone delivery in the U.S. and is currently collaborating with NAASIC to test aerial traffic management software. Flirtey is looking for hardware tinkerers and software engineers who want to help them make autonomous drone delivery a reality.

Unamanned aerial systems

The College of Engineering's interdisciplinary minor in unmanned autonomous systems, open to students in computer science and engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, has served more than 40 students since it debuted in the
spring of 2014.

BlackRidge Technology

The cyber security company, which relocated from the Bay Area in early 2015, specializes in technology that protects enterprise network and cloud resources against unidentified and unauthorized user. In addition to company headquarters, Reno will be home a new cyber security solutions lab for BlackRidge Technology, scheduled to be operational this year.

Computer science and engineering students

Cyber security is a growing industry in Nevada, and the University is offering two new training programs in cyber security: an undergraduate minor focusing on technical aspects of cyber security available this fall and an interdisciplinary graduate certificate program to being in 2016.


Earlier this year Switch, the Nevada-born technology solutions company founded by inventrepreneur Rob Roy, began construction on SUPERNAP TAHOE RENO 1, which will be the world's largest data center at 1.2 million s.f. Switch is also building the SUPERLOOP, a 500-mile fiber network connecting its Las Vegas (1.5 million s.f.) and Tahoe Reno campuses to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Innevation Center

Switch has partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno to create Innevation Reno, based on the successful Innevation Las Vegas. Switch Founder and CEO Rob Roy created The Innevation Center as his philanthropic contribution to Nevada. Located in Midtown Reno, The Innevation Center is designed to empower Nevada's next generation of economic leaders by igniting the creative and entrepreneurial spirits in University of Nevada, Reno students, faculty, community creatives, makers, economic developers, and emerging global tech companies. It is also home to the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center.