SIU to offer new engineering specializations this fall
The department of engineering will offer two new engineering specializations starting in the fall.
A biomedical engineering and a power and energy systems specialization will be added to the course catalog for electrical engineering students. Department leaders say they think the school will attract more prospective students by adding the specializations.
According to department-commissioned Bureau of Labor projections, the electrical engineering program could grow by 4 percent and the biomedical engineering program by 27 percent after the specializations are added.
Spyros Tragoudas, the department chairman of electrical and computer engineering, said these specializations will open up a significant amount of work opportunities for students by adding an accredited addition to their college diploma.
Tragoudas said the university is already equipped to teach students in the new specializations, but the department needs more faculty to meet state standards if it wants to offer full bachelor’s degrees in those subjects in the future.
“When we make a proposal to [the Illinois Board of Higher Education] to offer a new major it means that we have the resources,” Tragoudas said.
A committee has been formed to interview potential faculty members that will fill the needed teaching expertise within the department. The department is waiting on approval from interim Chancellor Brad Colwell to start interviews.
By offering an effective specialization in biomedical engineering, Tragoudas said the school will then have proof that a bachelor degree in biomedical engineering will increase enrollment.
“When the administration sees that there is a demand, then we will be allowed to grow our department in that field,” he said.
The College of Engineering has two research centers: one in embedded systems and the other in power systems. The research centers are partially funded by electrical companies, which provide students with internships and jobs after college, Tragoudas said.
Shaikh Ahmed, an engineering professor, said he sees students’ eagerness for the additional specializations.
Even within the current electrical program there are many students who have a passion for learning about the biomedical and power and energy systems fields. With these added fields, the school will be able to provide courses and degrees that have a large impact on the world, Ahmed said.
“We should have started biomedical engineering a long time ago,” he said. “It is a very prevalent field for our students.”