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Below are answers to some popular topics of undergraduate students at the College of Engineering.  Graduate students with questions should direct them to their departments. Civil & Environmental, Electrical, Mechanical


Why can’t I register for my classes?

Advising is mandatory every semester for all engineering students (including incoming freshmen) and you will not be able to register unless the courses you wish to register for have been approved by an adviser. You will be sent an email directing you to the department office for times and advisers. Get more information about undergraduate advising.


What is my engineering fee used for?

In 2008, The Board of Regents approved a professional fee for sophomores, juniors, and seniors enrolled in the College of Engineering. These fees are used to support partially the undergraduate instructional labs as well as necessary supervisory staff. They are allocated to the departments based on enrollment; that is, a department receives the fees paid by their students. The pre-engineering fees are used by the college to support college-wide facilities, such as the POST computer lab. Remaining funds are allocated to the departments. The departments have authority to allocate the funds per authorized spending categories. The spending is documented at CEE, EE, ME, and CoE.


What is the difference between professors and lecturers?

There are three ranks of professors (assistant professor, associate professor, and professor) and all are classified as instructional faculty. These faculty are appointed by the Board of Regents. Faculty start on a tenure-track, and after a certain number of years of service they achieve tenure. Prior to tenure, they are on one or two-year contracts. After tenure, they are on a “permanent” contract until separation (most often retirement or resignation). All regular instructional faculty in the College of Engineering have doctoral degrees. The appropriate title to use in addressing all three ranks is professor, for example, Professor Smith. Alternatively, Dr. Smith can be used.

Lecturers are hired occasionally as demanded by the instructional needs. They are usually hired on a semester basis, i.e., they have a contract to provide a given course for a given semester. They are paid by the departments. Because of this, and because course assignments are made by the department chair, the decision to hire a lecturer lies with the department chair (although formal approval by the dean is required). Some lecturers may have a doctoral degree. If so, then the appropriate way to address him or her is Dr. Smith, otherwise it would be Mr./Ms. Smith. The exception is if the lecturer has a title from his or her home organization. For example, a visiting professor from another university would be addressed as Professor Smith, whereas a military officer would be addressed by rank, such as Capt. Smith.


How are department chairs appointed?

Department chairs are appointed by the dean. The process to appoint chairs is covered in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that the university has with the faculty union. See Article XXIII of the CBA:


Are the engineering programs at UH accredited and what does this mean?

The BS programs in civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering are ABET accredited (almost all US universities seek accreditation only for the BS programs). Our programs are accredited through 2022, with the next comprehensive review of all programs scheduled for 2021-2022.

ABET ( is the organization that accredits engineering programs in the US, and in the last few years more and more foreign programs have requested accreditation by ABET. To be accredited, the program needs to meet certain criteria, as specified by ABET. It is generally considered to be virtually essential for a program to be accredited for it to be credible. It provides a level of confidence in the quality and scope. Practically, if an engineer wants to become a licensed professional engineer (PE), then graduation from an ABET-accredited program helps substantially.

It should be noted that ABET either accredits a program or it does not. That is, it is a binary designation. There are no different “levels” of accreditation, which might imply different levels of quality.

Another item to note is that ABET does not accredit degrees, it accredits programs. The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (and hence its degrees) is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). For ABET to accredit an engineering program, the university must first be accredited by an organization such as WASC.


How do I complain about a harassment issue?

Make an appointment with the Student Academic Services Office at Holmes 250, and/or visit the Title IX website at for more information.


How can I apply for a scholarship?

Normally the College of Engineering accepts and awards Giving Tree scholarships by the end of February for the next school year (fall and spring). The Everett E. Black Scholarship is solicited immediately after the fall semester begins and is awarded during the month of October for the current fall semester and the next spring semester. An email will be sent out announcing both types of scholarships along with instructions on how to apply and deadlines.  This allows all incoming freshman the opportunity to apply.


How do I get an override for a course?

Overrides are issued from the faculty teaching the course. If the faculty is not available, please see the Department Chair for assistance. If you need assistance on how to locate a faculty or Department Chair (email address, office number), please call 956-8404 or visit


How do I add/drop a course?

Add and Drop course forms are available in the Student Academic Services Office located at Holmes 250. There are specific times to drop a course with or without a “W.” One of our academic advisers will send out an email announcing this time with deadline and instructions you will need to follow.


How do I get copies of my official transcripts?

Your transcripts are managed by the Office of the Registrar. Please visit with website at for details.


How do I participate in Convocation?

A notice will be emailed only to students who are projected to graduate during the current semester. These prospective graduates are to pick up a packet from the Student Academic Services Office at Holmes 250 and may size for their Order of the Engineer ring at this time. The deadlines for participation are firm.

The fall convocation ceremony is customarily held at the Campus Center Ballroom on the Mānoa campus while the spring ceremony is held at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena (through 2019). Due to renovation plans for the arena, we will need to secure a venue large enough to accommodate an audience of 2,000+ for spring ceremonies after 2019.


How much are graduate assistants (GA) paid?

The university has a minimum salary for GAs (step 7). However, the college has identified a higher pay scale (see below) as a recommendation to departments and project principal investigators (PI). It may not always be possible, however, for project PIs in particular to pay the recommended levels, based on available funding.

College of Engineering
Recommended Minimum Graduate Assistant Salaries

R-10 Incoming students with Bachelors degree
R-11 Incoming students with Masters degree
R-12 Students who have passed their comprehensive exam
R-13 Students who have defended their PhD. dissertation proposal and are working on their dissertation

Step TA (9-month) RA (11-month)*
10 $20,472 $23,952
11 $21,288 $24,912
12 $22,140 $25,908
13 $23,028 $26,946


This list will be updated on a rolling basis, so check back for more questions and answers.

If you have a GENERAL question that you would like an answer to, please send it via the contact page.

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