Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- June 04, 2003

Cal Poly Offers Three New Degree Programs in Computer Science, Agribusiness, and Natural Resources Management

Beginning in June, Cal Poly will offer three new degree programs: a bachelor of science program in software engineering in the Computer Science Department, a master of science program in agribusiness, and a bachelor of science program in environmental management and protection in the Natural Resources Management Department.

The California State University System Chancellor's Office approved the new degrees in May; they will be implemented in June.

With the new bachelor of science degree in software engineering, Cal Poly will become one of a handful of universities in the nation — and the first CSU campus — to respond to the growing industry demand for software engineers. The program will begin accepting students in fall 2003.

"This new degree responds to society's increasing dependence on computer software and the need for engineering practices that emphasize the development of reliable software," said Computer Science Chair Tim Kearns.

"Because the program emphasizes engineering methods, rigorous thinking and exposure to practical experience in software systems along with team leadership, the degree will provide California with professionals who can design, develop and deliver computer software systems that are on time, on budget and on target," he said.

Cal Poly's Computer Science Department spent the past three years in planning and development for the new degree. The department will use a student team structure to develop members' engineering knowledge and professional leadership skills in resource planning, allocation, tracking, team coordination and personnel handling, Kearns explained.

"We anticipate that our future software engineering graduates will become industry leaders and the architects of advances in this important branch of computing," he said.

The two new degrees in agriculture will expand the university's extensive offerings in that area. Cal Poly has the third-largest undergraduate agriculture program in the nation, and the two new degrees in Cal Poly's College of Agriculture will add even more depth to the university's agricultural offerings, noted Dean David Wehner.

"We're paying close attention to what industry leaders are telling us they need, and these two new degree programs are an example," Wehner said.

The new M.S. degree program in agribusiness will complement the college's extensive undergraduate degree program, said Agribusiness Professor Jim Ahern, who will oversee the program. Graduate students will complete extensive coursework involving international agricultural business issues, as well as agricultural technology, policy, and international marketing.

"We already have extensive agribusiness internships available in our undergraduate program, and we expect to have them available for the new degree program as well, to give the students plenty of 'real world' experience," Ahern said.

The master's degree program in agribusiness is an expansion of a study area previously offered through the master of science in agriculture. Some 12 students are already signed up for the new program.

The new bachelor of science degree in environmental management and protection is also an expansion of an existing concentration within the forestry and natural resources management program.

Professor Doug Piirto, chair of the Forestry and Natural Resources Management Department, said the new degree program will offer extensive studies in environmental ecosystems management. Graduates from the new program are likely to be in high demand by private-sector environmental firms as well as by federal agencies such as the EPA, Piirto said.

"Many of our (FNR) students are already employed in private environmental consulting firms like Jones and Stokes and ENTRIX, national firms, and local companies like the Morro Group," Piirto said. "We've already had a lot of interest."

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