TSUS approves innovative Master of Science major in Engineering

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
November 7, 2013

The Texas State University System Board of Regents has authorized Texas State University to offer a new Master of Science with a major in Engineering through the Ingram School of Engineering within the College of Science and Engineering.

The board, meeting Nov. 7 on the campus of Lamar University in Beaumont, approved the new degree.

"This new program is significant for Texas State because it builds on our burgeoning undergraduate engineering programs and allows the university to help meet the national and state needs for highly-skilled, master’s-level engineering graduates," said Texas State Provost Gene Bourgeois. "These needs span several engineering disciplines (electrical, computer, industrial, manufacturing, mechanical) as well as several functional areas (product design and development, supply chain optimization, technical sales, and engineering management)."

The program, designed with input and support from such major industry figures as Texas Instruments, Samsung, Tokyo Electron and Dell, will produce Master’s-level graduates to meet an expected 11 percent national increase in the demand for engineers in the near term. Texas alone is projected to need more than 6,000 new engineers a year to meet demand. Most of the new employment growth is due to increasing demand for engineers in areas which require advanced degrees, such as research and development and design and consulting services.

"This program is not a traditional, specialized, research-oriented Master's program. It's a cross-cutting, trans-disciplinary masters degree," explained Stan McClellan, director of the Ingram School of Engineering. "Industry needs graduates with multiple areas of expertise. That's the primary thrust. Most companies don't want someone with a Ph.D. They don't want research-oriented Master's degrees. They need functioning engineers who have cross-discipline expertise. That's the way this degree is designed."

The program complements other programs in the state, which focus primarily on discipline-specific graduate degrees, such as “Master of Science in Electrical Engineering.” The Texas State program will provide graduates with a broad, multidisciplinary perspective in key areas of engineering through a structure that differes from existing programs. The degree provides a practical, industry-driven focus via a long-term, targeted technical project or thesis related to real-world engineering applications. These projects will be conducted in partnership with local industries, and may involve off-campus collaborations. The degree requires a large-scale project or thesis because the abilities to solve problems, innovate and make immediate contributions to industry are best developed by having students confront a large, open-ended problem, perform detailed research on the problem, develop various solutions, choose and implement the best solution, validate their choice and effectively communicate the process to professional colleagues, executives and customers.

"One third of the degree courses are outside of engineering. They're restricted courses, but they're outside of engineering," McClellan said. "We have three separate core elements--electrical, industrial and manufacturing engineering--and students declare a major out of those. A Master's student could have an industrial engineering core, but outside of that, they would take electives from business, computer science and math.

"The net effect is that you have a student with a broad exposure to a lot outside of engineering," he said. "They graduate with a cross-disciplinary view of high-level engineering topics. This approach blends a lot of different things into a program that, at this point, is extremely well-received by our industrial partners."

Ultimately, the Master of Science with a major in Engineering is but one more step in the continued growth and maturation of engineering at Texas State.

"The endgame is a full-scope engineering program. What we have now is the Ingram School of Engineering, which has excellent programs but limited scope," McClellan said. "This Master of Science degree is critical to our goal of increasing the scope of engineering at Texas State."

The Texas State University System Board of Regents is the governing body for Texas’ oldest university system, which comprises eight institutions: Lamar University; Sam Houston State University; Texas State University; Sul Ross State University; Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College; Lamar Institute of Technology; Lamar State College-Orange; and Lamar State College-Port Arthur.