New degree to be offered this fall in response to high employer demand

March 21, 2017

Jasmine Nelon

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     Students often worry that their degree program might not lead them to a job in their desired field after graduation.

     Beginning in the fall 2017 semester, the College of Engineering and Applied Science will offer a degree program that can be applied in several fields and will focus on data analytics and systems engineering.

     Some of the skills provided by this degree will include mathematics, computer science, operations research, industrial and systems engineering and operations management, according to the proposal presented at the Board of Regents meeting Feb. 17.

     Because the College of Engineering and Applied Science has experienced a 152 percent increase in enrollment since 2010, Chris Nelson, assistant dean of EAS, predicts that at least 10-14 students will enroll in this degree program in its first year. UCCS will be the only CU campus to offer this degree.

     “We already experience the impacts of systems engineering daily. Smart phones, for example, use data analytics to create and improve the way they work,” Nelson said.

     “There are people behind the scenes that are doing the analysis and the algorithms and writing the code to make systems work, and to present (information) to you in a very simple fashion.”

     According to Ramaswani “Dan” Dandapani, dean of EAS, the demand for data analytics and systems engineering outpaces the number of students graduating in this field.

     “The demand is just tremendous because every aspect of life now requires computers.”

     This degree program will combine many existing classes to give students a skill-set that can be applied in fields from health care to telecommunications.

     “We are driving in the direction of online programs, so it will be available all over the world, not just (for) people here, so I expect great demand as we go forward,” Dandapani said.

     Data is collected all the time, and the analysis of this data is important to many fields.

     “Any time you make a call, that data is being collected by somebody, actually lots of people. When you think about it, every person’s data in the region is being collected and stored in a computer. That’s a lot of data,” Dandapani said.

     Students in this field are also in high demand for internships, Nelson said.

     “We have strong connections to the industry, and they always tell us, ‘we want more interns,’” he said.

     Dandapani added that internships in this field can pay $15-$30 per hour and provide applicable job training through technical work, coding and analysis, among other skills. Faculty members are in support of this degree because of its interdisciplinary applications and research opportunities for undergraduate students.

     “When I presented this to my fellow deans, they were excited because they thought their college could play a part in this degree program in the future, so it becomes an interdisciplinary degree moving forward,” Dandapani said.

     Instructors have started conducting research in subjects like data visualization, data mining, algorithms and analytics, which are subjects that are incorporated in this new degree program.

     “Students will have to complete a capstone project with the presence of our research faculty; we think we could get some very robust student projects that are very applicable in the field,” said Nelson.

     EAS is working with a consultant to develop a comprehensive marketing plan that will attract freshmen to this degree program, Dandapani said.

     Presenting this program as an option for students was successful at the recent Mountain Lion Experience event, when prospective students and their parents visited UCCS.

     “I had parents and students coming up to me saying, ‘tell us more, tell us more,’” said Nelson, adding that EAS is using the UCCS Recruitment Office to get the word out to high school guidance counselors.

     He hopes these efforts will increase undergraduate enrollment at UCCS.