FHSU engineers new program to help students
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
A new program at Fort Hays State University will give students the chance to complete a degree in one area of engineering rather than transferring to another institution after two years.
The combination of the computer science and information systems programs will form the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems Engineering program in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Previously, computer science classes were offered out of the Math Department, and the newly formed information systems engineering program was in the Informatics Department.
"There's a lot of overlap in classes and instructors in those two departments," said Gavin Buffington, professor of physics at FHSU. "We're real excited to offer students in western Kansas this opportunity."
"Dr. Hammond had the idea this reorganization would be good for both departments," Buffington said of former President Edward Hammond, who retired from the presidency this summer but still remains on at the university as a consultant. "It's going to help everyone to build a team for these programs. It was a good match."
For years, students have been able to take the pre-engineering track with math and physics classes, as well as other "foundational coursework that prepares them for engineering," said Mark Bannister, dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship.
Pre-engineering classes for other types of engineering such as civil, mechanical and chemical engineering still are available at Fort Hays through the Physics Department, and FHSU has a two-plus-two program with Kansas State University. The partnership allows students can take their first two years at Fort Hays, then transfer to Kansas State to complete their engineering degree.
Students also have started at FHSU and transferred to engineering programs at institutions such as the University of Kansas, Colorado State University and the University of Maine.
"This is focused on a specific type of engineering," Bannister said of the new information systems engineering degree.
"It's so closely tied to our tremendous strengths in other areas like computer networking, information areas, computer science and management information systems. This is a new field within engineering and few universities offer it."
Bannister said the informatics department had "gotten so large with approximately 400 students, that the university decided the creation of a new department would give the university a chance to focus on building an exciting new program from the start and make it a feature program at Fort Hays State."
"We have a lot of strengths in the information sciences," he added, "and this really complements those existing programs."
Bannister said one attractive aspect of the new degree is "this major has a required internship."
"It will open up a lot of internship opportunities for the students," he said, "ranging from private industry to federal research laboratories. We already have companies inquiring about hiring information systems engineering interns and graduates."