Report says engineering program growing fast

Michelle Verne

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CSUN’s engineering programs is the fastest growing in the nation, according to a report by PRISM, a publication for the American Society for Engineering Education.

In 2005, CSUN awarded 97 bachelors’ of science degrees in engineering. In 2008 this number increased to 190 according the the report.

“The bigger story here is not only that our enrollment is going up but that our faculty is able to work with these students and successfully graduate them so that they go out into the world,” said S.K. Ramesh, dean of the college.  “One of the reasons for our success is that we really pay attention to our student’s education.”

Dr. Ileana Costea, professor in the Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Management Department, said the increase could be because of the teaching methods used as well as the many programs involved.

“The faculty in all the departments in our college is really devoted to educating our students,” Costea said. “It would be nice to think also that the increase is based on the fact that we are doing a good job to make our engineering programs known locally with the ACCESS program, organizing open houses for high schools, going to career fairs at community colleges and by a very active participation of all departments in the college and in engineering competitions.”

“We are constantly adapting our teaching of engineering to the market needs, by having Industry Advisory Boards to offer us feedback and suggestions.

Young people must have a positive sense about the good market adapted quality of our programs,” Costea said.

Ramesh, who has worked at other universities prior to coming to CSUN, said the bond between the faculty and the students is one of the key reasons for the high increase.

“The relationship between the faculty and the student is unmatched.  The interaction between them is just tremendous to watch,” he said.  “Our students are very good at combining the theory that they get in the class with hands on education.  Engineering is about designing and building things to make life better for people and that’s what students do and they do it very quietly, very modestly and very well, every week something or the other comes up where students are winning prizes.”

First-year graduate student Manjunath Subbaiah said the engineering programs offered at CSUN are exceptional.

“I like the design parts of the program that they offer here, which is very much needed right now and the professors are great, they help us a lot,”  Subbaiah said.

Zaven Kechichian, gradute student in Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Quality and Management, said he also enjoys the engineering program.

“I enjoy attending CSUN and meeting students and professors with various backgrounds, past experiences, and different approaches to teaching,” Kechichian said. “The overall feeling and aura is content.”

Costea said although the increase in degrees might mean more competition for jobs after graduation, there are many fields that one can choose from. 
“Today there’s a lot of engineering needed in the entertainment business, from stage design, to 3D modeling for movies, to amusement parks, TV advertising,” she said. “With a degree in engineering you get a solid applied science background and you can work for service companies like, hospitals, telecommunications, transportation, or you can continue your studies in different areas, such as medicine. “

“ I tell my students to study the type of engineering they like, for by the time they finish their bachelor, the emphasis and market needs might be different than when they started their studies. Besides, with a solid background in any engineering area, you can switch form one field to another. We try to teach to prepare our students for life-long learning, the fact of the 21st century,” he said.