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Non Traditional Bachelor Degree Programs And Options Offered By Engineering Schools: Their Impact On Traditional Engineering Programs

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1108.1 - 12.1108.14



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Paper Authors


E. Bernard White George Mason University

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E. Bernard White received the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) in Systems Engineering. He has studied at a wide range of universities, earning bachelor and master degrees in mathematics from Mississippi Industrial College and the University of Illinois (Urbana), respectively. He earned a master degree in Urban Systems Engineering from Howard University (Washington, D.C.). Mr. White worked as a research engineer and assistant professor in the Howard University School of Engineering prior to working as a Systems Engineer at the MITRE Corporation (McLean, VA). Mr. White is currently Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor of Systems Engineering and Operations Research at George Mason University (Fairfax, VA)

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Non-traditional Bachelor Degree Programs and Options Offered by Engineering Schools: Their Impact on Traditional Engineering Programs Abstract

Our Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering (IT&E) at George Mason University established a new four-year Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BS-IT) program that focuses on selected sub-disciplines or areas of concentration during the last two years. The BS-IT program aims to help fulfill The Volgenau School’s mission, which is to produce more graduates who understand information technology and who can use it effectively. The BS-IT degree was offered for the first time during the fall, 2002 semester. Enrollment in the BS-IT program at the beginning of the fall 2006 semester was over 900 students, making it the largest undergraduate program in The Volgenau School of IT&E. The Computer Science (CS) Department in The Volgenau School here at George Mason has developed a new Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Computer Science (BS-ACS) with concentrations associated with selected disciplines (e.g., Biology and Geography) beginning with the fall 2006 semester. The decision to offer the BS-ACS program was influenced partially by the success of the new BS-IT program and the declining enrollment in the traditional BS-CS program, as well as the perceived need in the computational sciences profession. The BS-ACS program proposes to retain stringent technical requirements in the CS major related courses as well as in the discipline associated with the selected concentration. It must be noted that much of the success of the BS- IT program can be attributed to its significantly reduced mathematics and programming requirements, which is not the case for the BS-ACS program. In this paper, we take a closer look at the types of non-traditional programs that are available to undergraduate students in engineering schools and explore the extent to which these types of non-traditional programs are achieving their goals both in The Volgenau School and at other select universities across the country. Additionally, we explore the impact of these types of non-traditional bachelor degree programs offered by engineering schools on more traditional undergraduate program offerings in engineering and computer science. We also attempt to both identify and gain a better understanding of the full range of issues that must be addressed. Among the topics to be discussed are: issues associated with both the recruitment and persistent of students in the traditional engineering and computer science programs; need for new types of engineering and computing related programs; and the need for branding of the non-traditional programs so that they are easily distinguishable from similarly named traditional programs. The results should be of interest to engineering schools and other academic units that are contemplating and/or in the early stages of implementing non-traditional bachelor degree programs.

1. Introduction and Overview of Paper

Back in the 1960’s, electrical engineering, computer science, and information systems were essentially the only computer-related undergraduate programs available to students.9 These three areas were well defined with little, if any, overlap of their respective domains. After the invention of the chip-based microprocessor in the 1970’s, the field of computer engineering first began to emerge as an area of study. In the 1990’s, both software engineering and information technology (IT) emerged as separate entities. Further refinements in the information systems field continue to occur as well; however, this paper focuses on changes that are more aligned

White, E. B. (2007, June), Non Traditional Bachelor Degree Programs And Options Offered By Engineering Schools: Their Impact On Traditional Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2081

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