Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Engineering program building bright future

Founded just three years ago, the School of Engineering and Computer Science (SECS) continues to grow and evolve. It is, in a sense, re-engineering engineering education. 

Teamwork and internationalization are the driving forces behind the latest SECS innovation. The school recently entered a partnership with several overseas universities to create a virtual senior design course, says Dean Rahmat Shoureshi. 

Starting this year, senior design teams will collaborate with students at universities in Italy and Israel. Each international site will design and construct a component of the overall project, which will be integrated at DU in the same way multinational companies design new products. 

Shoureshi expects to add partner universities in Kuwait, Chile, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom as the program grows. 

“It is a true international curriculum,” he says. 

Next fall, the Department of Engineering will divide in two, creating the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (MME) and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). A national search for an ECE chair begins this fall, and an MME chair will be appointed from internal candidates, Shoureshi says. 

Fall 2009 will see the addition of a new, graduate-level department, Molecular Scale Engineering (MSE), which will focus on nanotechnology, engineering relating to the life sciences, and nano-energy research. 

To that end, the school has made several key hires this year, including experts in mechatronics/computer engineering, electrical engineering and micro-/nano-fabrication, game development and software engineering. 

“We want, by 2011, to have an average of 12 faculty in each of these four departments (including the Department of Computer Science),” Shoureshi explains. “Our goal also is to have at least one endowed chair in each department.” 

These developments build on an impressive list of milestones achieved since 2003. 

In 2004, SECS created the nation’s first master of science degree programs in mechatronics systems engineering; the first in computer science systems engineering; the first bachelor of science degree in game development and visual technologies at a traditional four-year college; and the region’s first master of science program in bioengineering and bachelor of science program in bioinformatics. 

The school has forged industry ties by creating three advisory boards, participating in the DU Technology Transfer Office and introducing advanced degrees for Lockheed Martin’s leadership development program. 

SECS has also established partnerships with Denver Health Medical Center and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center; and it created dual-degree programs in business, law, biology and art. 

“When you look at the growth areas in the U.S. economy, they all are going to revolve around high-tech innovations, and they all are going to come from areas in which our school is expanding,” Shoureshi says. 

“In terms of developing successful entrepreneurship programs, such as our molecular life sciences program, they all need a mix of technology and other disciplines, such as those offered at DU in business, international studies, law, and natural sciences and mathematics.” 

This article originally appeared in The Source, September 2006.

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