New engineering programs come to UIndy

The University of Indianapolis will enhance its E in the acronym STEM—which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics—with the integration of software and industrial and system engineering programs in the fall of 2016.

UIndy has had a dual degree program with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis since the 1990s. Students in the five-year program graduate with two degrees, one from UIndy and one from IUPUI.

Associate Professor of Physics and Earth Space Sciences Stephen Spicklemire said that there is no intention to get rid of the dual program. The administration and faculty were just looking for a less time-consuming alternative for engineering students.

“The students get a degree from UIndy in either chemistry, mathematics, computer science or physics, and they get a degree from IUPUI in either electrical, computer or biomedical engineering,” Spicklemire said. “Not all students are attracted to that because of the fact that it is a five-year program, so we looked for a way we could develop more traditional four-year programs [that] would be more attractive.”

According to Dean of the Shaheen College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of English Jennifer Drake, the university looked into engineering programs that were not only unique to the state of Indiana, but also had a large number of jobs available for students in the future.

Drake said that the liberal arts aspect of UIndy makes the programs unique and attractive to prospective students.

“We saw the opportunity to distinguish ourselves,” Drake said. “We said, ‘What would make these programs in a school the size of UIndy seem special?’ And what makes us special is that we would be graduating engineers who would have a strong, broad background in liberal arts and in sciences. Engineers who graduate from UIndy—given the quality of our general education core—would know how to write, speak [and] think critically, engage with people who are different from them and would just have a broad-based education. That’s really distinctive.”

Because of the general education core requirements, Drake said the students are unable to take a lot of engineering electives, so they have embedded projects throughout the curriculum for students to work on, which she called the design spine.

Spicklemire, who has taken the role of creating the curriculum and the design spine, said the administration will be working with industry partners, and possibly the health science departments on campus as well.

“If you look at what employers want engineers to have that they don’t see much of is the ability to work together in teams from the beginning,” Spicklemire said. “So we developed this set of courses [that] they take throughout their time here, where they work in teams with other kinds of engineers to solve engineering problems. It’s all about designing solutions to problems that we find.”

Although the programs will not officially begin until next fall, students already are able to submit applications for admission into the programs.