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Featured Academic Unit - School of Engineering and Computer Science

Dr. Elizabeth Basha and SOECS students Jacob Palmer and Tristan Watts-Willis work on a quadcopter

Office of the ProvostMar 23, 2016
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For this month's featured academic unit, we will take a look at the work being done in the School of Engineering and Computer Science (SOECS) to support and implement the goals of the Academic Plan, as highlighted in the newest edition of its annual magazine, The Rock.

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One of the primary themes of the Academic Plan, Crossing Boundaries for Academic Excellence, is the development and expansion of teaching and scholarship that crosses disciplines and academic units. Other principles and goals of the Academic Plan include leveraging Pacific's three-city strengths; the diversification of curriculum delivery/teaching and learning modalities to meet the needs of new generation of learners and working adults; and, becoming a premier educator for water/environmental stewardship of the region. The SOECS has outlined an aggressive strategy to build programming, infrastructure and resources over the next few years in support of these, and what follows are some of the School's recent developments and accomplishments in these areas.   

Last fall saw the successful launch of the brand-new Master of Science in Analytics program, the SOECS's first program on the San Francisco campus. This program, led by Rick Hutley and taught by professors from multiple disciplines, is designed for working professionals and prepares its graduates for an exciting and rapidly evolving career in "big data." The four-semester program uses a hybrid approach to learning by combining the convenience of online learning with hands-on experience in the classroom. Based upon the success of this inaugural program, Pacific has expanded the program to offer it on the Sacramento campus starting Spring 2017.  

The School is playing a significant role in understanding the issues and challenges facing California in addressing its crisis in water management and water quality through its rapidly expanding Ecological Engineering Research Program (EERP). This program is the lead scientific agency on several water quality and ecosystem restoration projects focused on understanding and improving water quality in the San Joaquin River. Some of its projects include studies of wetland ecosystems and studies examining the impact of current agricultural best management practices on water quality. EERP Program Director Dr. Will Stringfellow and EERP research collaborator Dr. Mary Kay Camarillo recently participated in a study to investigate the environmental hazards of hydraulic fracturing in California. The project was sponsored by the California Natural Resources Agency as part of Senate Bill 4 and managed by the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST). On April 7, the SOECS is co-sponsoring the George and Rosemary Tchobanoglous Water Lecture Series, the topic of which is "Use of Recycled Oil Field Wastewater for Irrigation of Food Crops."  

The Cooperative Education Program (CO-OP), led by Dr. Steve Harvath, continues to provide SOECS students with valuable experiential learning that sets them apart from other engineering and computer science programs. Seven-month CO-OP placements help students strengthen and reinforce their academic engineering knowledge and skills, acquire hands-on industry experiences and programming skills, and learn how to navigate a corporate environment. The CO-OP Office has partnered with employers and industry leaders around the world to offer students a diverse range of experiences.  

Finally, the School's new minor in Technological Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides SOECS students the opportunity to develop business acumen while understanding what is required to turn an invention into a viable commercial enterprise. This cross-disciplinary program, led by Dr. Cynthia Wagner Weick, brings creative leaders from engineering, computer science and business together to apply their skills to research and develop new products. This year, SOECS students will have the opportunity to design an innovation space for this program that will not only serve them, but others on campus too. As the program continues to expand and grow, students from the sciences and graphic design will participate as well.  

Introducing and expanding innovative academic offerings such as the Analytics program, preparing its students to be future environmental stewards through the EERP, and providing experiential and multi-disciplinary opportunities for learning are just a few of the ways the School of Engineering and Computer Science is implementing its strategy in support of the Academic Plan now and into the future.

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