While the idea is in its infancy, TRU president Alan Shaver said Friday he would like to establish an engineering program on campus.
Shaver said the university's provost and dean of science are beginning campus discussions with faculty.
"I'm very interested," he said, adding "we'd need a university-wide discussion."
Currently TRU offers a first year of engineering studies, allowing transfer to University of B.C. or University of Victoria.
University officials have previously dismissed the idea of adding engineering to the campus due to its high cost. But Shaver said there might be ways to bring a program in stages.
"There might be ways of planning something much more economically," Shaver said.
That would come with expanding in stages toward an eventual degree. Shaver said the majority of high-cost equipment is in the third and fourth years of the program.
The concept remains at a preliminary stage and the university has not determined what specialties, including mechanical or electrical engineering, it might offer.
"We'd need the faculty of science to discuss how they'd do it. We'd have to look at demand. Do we think there will be demand by students to do that?"
Shaver said following discussions with faculty the university would need to meet with industry, professionals in the field and government.
UBC's Okanagan campus offers engineering specialties and University of Northern B.C. is in the advanced planning stage for mechanical and civil engineering degrees.
Cameron Gatey, a local engineer and vice-president of the Consulting Engineers of B.C., said there is great demand for engineering graduates, particularly with looming retirement of senior people.
"We could use another good engineering program," said Gatey, who is on the university's alumni foundation.
"It would look real nice next to the new law school."
While the opening of the first law school in Canada in decades here was considered a coup, Shaver said establishing an engineering program is more complex.
The discussions came during an interview Shaver gave with reporters on an initiative from the Research Universities' Council of B.C.
The group of six universities wants the B.C. Liberal government to add 11,000 new spaces for undergraduate students, expanded student loans and grants and to establish more funding for research and development.
The group said B.C. produces "far fewer graduates" in fields such as engineering, mathematics and computer sciences than other provinces.
Shaver said when Thompson Rivers University was established in 2005, the target from government was to establish 450 spaces for graduate students.
But there was no money with the goal. Today the university has about 100 graduate students, in education, business and environmental science.
Shaver said that five years ago the B.C. Liberal government agreed to provide $20,000 for each graduate student outside professional programs.
"We weren't at the table when that was passed around."
The university is also developing a proposed master of arts program, something Shaver said would also benefit from funding.
The research universities group said 80 per cent of the one million jobs the B.C. Liberal government said will be created over the next decade will require some post-secondary education.