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Shepherd professors rammed up over new computer program

February 04, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- Shepherd University has witnessed record-breaking enrollment in recent years.

Now the professors behind a new computer engineering program at Shepherd believe the school will grow even faster.

Shepherd's entry into the new study area comes at a time of significant demand for computer engineers.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 10 percent to 20 percent growth in demand for computer engineers by 2014, according to Shepherd officials.

Seung-yun Kim, an assistant professor involved in the new four-year degree program, said he recently did an Internet search and discovered there were 200 computer engineering jobs available within a 60-mile radius of Shepherdstown.

"It's really hot," said Kim, assistant professor of computer information and science.

Shepherd officials announced Dec. 6 that the state Higher Education Policy Commission approved Shepherd's computer engineering program. The degree program was a culmination of teamwork between faculty and feedback from the Higher Education Policy Commission, according to a news release from the school.

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The program involves classroom study and lab work. Students will be able to master a number of areas, including designing computers, building computer networks for companies and writing software for cell phones, said Rajeev Rajaram, another assistant professor involved in the program.

Among the areas of study will be learning about computer chips and how the devices function, Rajaram said.

Shepherd currently has four labs for the program, most of which are in Snyder Hall on the east campus, said Rajaram, an assistant professor of mathematics.

About 15 students are studying in the labs and other students headed toward a computer engineering degree are taking their basic courses, Kim said.

The school will continue to upgrade the labs, which will cost roughly $120,000, according to Reza Mirdamadi, head of Shepherd's computer science, mathematics and engineering department.

Mirdamadi said he plans to use funds generated from tech and lab fees at the school to help pay for the upgrades.

Investments needed for the program are considered minimal since the faculty needed to offer it are already at Shepherd, professors involved said.

There is an air of excitement among Shepherd professors who are launching the program and they expect it will be a big draw for students.

Computer engineering degrees are typically offered at large schools, but professors involved in Shepherd's program believe students will be attracted to the local program since it will cost much less than those offered at big universities.

"There is none like this around," said Mirdamadi.

The University of Maryland is the closest other university that offers computer engineering study, said Mirdamadi.

With the affordable cost and close proximity, Mirdamadi believes Shepherd's computer engineering program will be popular among students in areas like Hagerstown and Frederick, Md.

Mirdamadi said he is talking to Hagerstown Community College officials about allowing their two-year computer science students to transfer into Shepherd's program.

On the Web

To learn more about Shepherd University's computer engineering degree, go to www.shepherd.edu/cmeweb.

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