A new school of engineering at the University of Prince Edward Island will complement what is on offer at other universities in the region, says UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz.

Alaa Abd-El-Aziz - custom

UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz hopes to open the new school of engineering in the fall of 2014. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

The P.E.I. government announced the new school in Tuesday's speech from the throne.

Engineering students attending UPEI currently take their first two years there but then have to go to the mainland to finish their degree. The new school will allow them to stay on P.E.I. for their full degree if they plan to take design engineering.

Abd-El-Aziz said it will be a different program from what is offered at Dalhousie or the University of New Brunswick.

"We are not really competing. We are complementing one another, ensuring that the Atlantic has very strong engineering programs," he said.

"We want UPEI to play a role into this engineering program by designing something that is unique in Atlantic Canada."

Abd-El-Aziz said he's optimistic the new school of design engineering will begin by the fall of 2014.

The new program still has to be approved by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, and new labs will have to be built.

Abd-El-Aziz expects it will cost about $20 million to get the new program up and running, but he said it will come from different levels of government, industry and private donations. He hopes to start with 150 students, who would graduate in 2018-19.

This announcement of the new program follows what has been a difficult time of budget and staff cuts at the university. Abd-El-Aziz said it's nice to have some good news about an investment in the future.