Campus: Sonoma State University -- December 20, 1999

SSU's Computer and Engineering Science Program Passes Hurdles

ROHNERT PARK, December 20 -- Sonoma State University has been repeatedly asked by Telecom Valley companies that surround the campus to aid them in educating their employees. SSU heard that plea and responded by drafting a program that will help meet the needs of industry and the community.

The master's degree program in Computer and Engineering Science (MS-CES) recently received unanimous key campus approval, including the Natural Sciences Curriculum Review Committee, the faculty of the School of Natural Sciences, the Educational Policies Committee and just last week, the Faculty Senate. The program now moves on to endorsement by the CSU Board of Trustees and then the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation.

"We appreciate SSU making this course of study available in our area because we feel it will help attract and further prepare the professional workforce essential to the growth of the New Media Industry in the North Bay," says Mike Campos, vice president of the North Bay Multimedia Association.

"The MS-CES program is a unique and innovative program in which the curriculum has been designed to further the working skills and practical knowledge of engineers, computer scientists and similar professionals," says Anne Swanson, dean of the School of Natural Sciences. Once approval by the Board of Trustees and WASC has been received, classes are expected to begin in Fall 2001.

Students enroll in a 30 unit program designed for the working adult. Classes are offered in the late afternoon and evenings and include 9 units of core courses, 12 units in one of two areas of specialization (Communication and Photonics or Computer Hardware and Software Systems), up to 9 units of electives, and up to 6 units in a capstone experience (thesis, design project or comprehensive exam). Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA in the program to earn the degree.

"The program emphasizes hands-on learning, with many of the required courses having a laboratory component," says Saeid Rahimi, SSU professor of applied physics.

The program will be housed in SSU's Salazar Hall in 13,000 sq. ft. of laboratories and instructional support space. The space becomes available once the Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center is complete this summer and the current library moves from Salazar Hall to the Information Center.

The MS-CES program is self-supporting through two revenue areas: student fees and community investment. The goal is $8.5 million which includes $900,000 for start-up and a $7.6 million endowment for instructional support and equipment refreshment. Verbal commitments from several Telecom Valley companies have been received which total approximately $5 million.

"Those commitments represent business investments in the long-term economic development of the community," says Ruben Armiņana, SSU president.

Extensive interviews with principles from the high tech companies in the North Bay began the process of developing the program; an external market demand study of the geographical region will complete the process for the WASC accreditation.

The MS-CES faculty is composed of professors from Sonoma State University whose expertise and interests traverse the fields of the sciences, mathematics, and engineering, as well as qualified professionals from the community with cutting-edge expertise in the various engineering course options.

For more information, contact Anne Swanson, 707 664-2171 or Saeid Rahimi, 707 664-2169.

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