It was a busy summer for the College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS). In addition to staffing freshmen orientations, completing research projects and teaching classes, the CECS faculty and staff added two new interdisciplinary programs to their robust list of undergraduate majors and minors.
The Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Mechatronics Engineering Technology and the Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Engineering are available for students to enroll starting this fall.
Mechatronics Engineering Technology
Combining the studies of electro-mechanical systems and cutting edge controls technology, the new mechatronics engineering technology degree is the first program of its kind in the southeast and only one of five available nationwide.
According to CECS dean Daniel Pack, the program will help students better understand and succeed in the changing world of manufacturing.
“Manufacturing in the past has been mostly mechanical, people in the assembly line using machines to make things,” Pack said. “With the emergence of more sophisticated technology, manufacturing has changed. Instead of humans making decisions, we’re using machines to perform tasks under the direction of computer software.” Need an example? Think of a robot in a car manufacturing plant or in a surgery room.
The increasingly automated manufacturing industry has created a high demand for employees who not only have a solid grasp on the fundamentals of engineering, but are also well versed designing and enhancing robotics and automated systems.
Meeting that demand is what helped propel the new mechatronics degree forward. Established with the strong support of the local manufacturing industry and community colleges, the program was designed to be highly hands-on using the latest automation equipment and industry practices.
In addition to the electrical, mechanical, and computer programming education, the curriculum also focuses on a wide variety of skills, including systems integration, project management, technical communication, device networking, lean manufacturing, supply chain management and industrial safety.
The rise of “smart” devices—phones, TVs, refrigerators, for example—have driven demand for computer engineers, highly trained employees who have knowledge and skills from the fields of computer science, electrical engineering and other engineering disciplines.
“Computer engineering is hybrid of computer science and electrical engineering. Traditionally engineering mainly concentrated in the hardware of the systems and computer science was only interested in software. Now, industry needs someone who can understand both and that’s where computer engineering comes in,” Pack explained.
Computer engineers design and create systems that include the hardware of electronics with the software of computers. The sharp rise in “embedded” computing systems like those increasingly used in cars and appliances has driven demand.
The curriculum for the newly created undergraduate degree in computer engineering focuses on working with these embedded systems. Students will take classes in integrating computer software and hardware, getting hands-on experience in networking, operating systems, programming, computer technology and more.
For more information about these programs, contact the Department of Engineering Management and Technology for the mechatronics engineering technology degree and the Department Computer Science and Engineering for the computer engineering degree.