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WTAMU Adds Master

May 8, 2017

CONTACT:    Dr. Emily Hunt, 806-651-5330, ehunt@wtamu.edu
                      Dr. Matt Jackson, 806-651-2451, mjackson@wtamu.edu


COPY BY:     Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, rmcdonald@wtamu.edu

WTAMU Adds Master’s Program in Engineering


CANYON, Texas—The School of Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics at West Texas A&M University is expanding its program offerings this fall with the addition of a Master of Science in engineering degree. The new degree marks the school’s first graduate-level offering and gives students a unique non-discipline specific program as well as credit for professional experience.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) approved the University’s request for the degree program in April after meeting in March with Dr. Emily Hunt, director of the School of Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics, and Dr. Angela Spaulding, dean of the Graduate School, to discuss the proposed program. The new program represents more than three years of work by WTAMU officials in a multi-step process that includes approval by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents (May 2014) and THECB.

The new master’s degree will offer a variety of benefits to students and the community at large. It will provide graduate-level opportunities for students while increasing the marketability of engineering and computer science programs at WTAMU. The degree also addresses the workforce needs of Panhandle area industries. A report by the Rand Corporation commissioned by THECB found that “there will be high demand growth for engineers in Texas and the Panhandle region served by WTAMU; yet, there is not enough current capacity in the existing engineering programs to satisfy the demand.” Local industry leaders have long supported the idea of WTAMU offering a master’s program in engineering to help recruit engineers to the Panhandle area. WTAMU’s master’s program will attract students to campus and those graduating will be more than prepared to meet the demands of today’s job market.

The Master of Science in engineering degree offers a stark contrast to comparable programs found at other universities across the country. WTAMU faculty members designed the program to be non-discipline specific to meet the current trend for a curriculum that crosses all disciplines for versatility. Students enrolled in the program can either focus on a certain area of engineering or take classes across disciplines in anything from mechanical to electrical engineering.

“This fits who we are,” Dr. Matt Jackson, associate dean of the School of Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics, said. “The new degree offers a broad based program that meets the current trend of being more collaborative rather than working in a silo to increase their skill set.”

Another unique feature of the program is that students with documented professional experience will earn academic credit. Students can earn up to 15 hours of credit for knowledge gained through previous engineering work experience. This university-workforce partnership saves students time and money by focusing on new course content and eliminating the need to take classes that cover skills already mastered, thus shortening the time to earn a degree. Faculty members anticipate many of the initial students will be working professionals, and course offerings and class schedules will be structured to accommodate them. This is a good example of the kind of programs that are offered through the WTAMU Amarillo Center that have a positive impact on the Amarillo community.

The program also will offer thesis and non-thesis options to serve those wanting a graduate degree as well as those interested in research. The thesis track will require a minimum of 24 hours, six hours of thesis research credit and a successful defense of a research thesis. Those choosing the non-thesis option will be required to complete a minimum of 36 hours of course work, including a three-credit hour project course.

Courses are set to begin in the fall in mechanical, civil and electrical engineering. Class offerings will expand as the program grows.


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