Graduates in engineering on the rise

N–Engineering Colby Patterson
The Warnock Engineering Building has an open space full of natural light for studying unknown to many students on campus. Photo by Brent Uberty.

The Warnock Engineering Building has an open space full of natural light for studying unknown to many students on campus. Photo by Brent Uberty.

The U’s College of Engineering is growing — and fast.

Over the past 15 years, the college has doubled in the amount of graduates, due in large part to the growing popularity of the various programs it offers. In response to the growth, the college has expanded its programs to include a greater variety of specialized courses for students to take and a new certificate.

James Oberlin, a senior in mechanical engineering, said he believes the increase in students interested in engineering is partly because of how prevalent engineering jobs have become.

“I attended the engineering program in 2005, and the classes were definitely smaller,” Oberlin said. “I think there has been a pretty big push for engineering as a whole from society.”

The seven departments within the College of Engineering currently offer students the opportunity to explore several areas of study, ranging from bioengineering to computer development.

Jameson Marshall, a senior in mechanical engineering, said he feels the adaptability of an engineering degree also encourages many students.

“I think people realize there are always going to be jobs in that field,” Marshall said. “It’s a very broad field — you can go a lot of different ways with engineering.”

Jeff Phillips, a professor in computer science, recently coordinated with members of the College of Engineering to introduce a new program. The program will allow students to pursue a certificate in “big data,” a field that is currently expanding worldwide.

“Things have changed within computer science recently in that the standard techniques we’ve been using to process data are not always scaling to the size and the rate at which the data is changing,” Phillips said. “Having access and needing to understand and process large data is becoming an important topic and skill in many different areas of science.”

The certificate requires five courses, including those that focus on data analysis, such as machine learning, data mining, visualization and classes focused more on data management, such as advanced algorithms and database systems.

Phillips said the program is geared toward engineers who have a background in computer science but want additional training in techniques geared toward managing large amounts of data. Because of the advancing nature of the industry, he believes these new techniques are more essential than ever for those involved in data management.

“People that received a computer science degree even five or 10 years ago wouldn’t have been exposed to these new techniques,” Phillips said.

He said this program is also beneficial to those who are pursuing a graduate degree in a different field at the U but also need training in data management on a large scale.

The program is set to kick off in Fall Semester 2014.