The Hawaii House on Wednesday voted to create a new state department to develop and support civil engineering education, in a vote that was closely watched because of a lawsuit filed by the state’s largest private engineering firm against the state.
The Senate approved the legislation, which requires the governor to appoint the new department, in the first session of its new year.
The legislation is expected to pass both chambers of the legislature in early December, with Gov.
David Ige’s signature.
It has been a year since the Hawaii Civil Engineering Association filed a lawsuit alleging the state had failed to provide adequate support for its civil engineering program.
The state’s own civil engineering association said in a January filing that Hawaii has failed to adequately fund its civil engineers, despite the fact that the state has the fourth-highest percentage of students with engineering degrees nationwide.
Hawaii has one of the nation’s most competitive engineering programs.
It has more than 1,000 civil engineering students enrolled, a fraction of the national average of more than 2,300.
The number of civil engineers enrolled nationally is about 1,500.
The Hawaii Civil Engineers Association said the state is short of the 2,600 it needs to support its workforce.
The new civil engineering office is set to be responsible for promoting and funding civil engineering programs across the state, including programs such as engineering for disaster relief and education for those at risk.
The bill also provides $5 million to provide $1 million annually to help private contractors hire and train civil engineers and $5.5 million annually for a statewide education fund.
The state has not been able to find enough funding to hire more than 400 civil engineers over the past five years, according to the lawsuit.
The Hawaii Civil Engineer Association has sued the state over the funding formula, saying it is discriminatory and violates the rights of minority and low-income students.