Equipping Difference Makers in Engineering and Computer Science

In high-demand industries like engineering and computer science, Azusa Pacific University is equipping new professionals with the skills needed to be difference makers in these innovative fields. APU’s Department of Engineering and Computer Science offers a practically-informed curriculum and close interaction with accomplished industry professionals, preparing students for successful careers. “Our first priority is our students’ success,” said James Hsi-Jen Yeh, PhD, interim chair and associate professor, Department of Engineering and Computer Science.

“The ECS program offers specialized programs geared toward developing students’ talents and passions in specific fields.”

Yeh brings an impressive wealth of experience to his role at APU that informs his teaching. Prior to APU, he taught in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Engineering Technology at Cal Poly Pomona. He also worked for 10 years with fingerprint sensor industry leaders AuthenTec (now Apple) and Validity (now Synaptics) in cellular handset integration. Later generations of these sensors are now included in Apple and Samsung mobile phones. Yeh was a Principal Investigator at AT&T Bell Laboratories in the field of wireless communications and optical storage. He holds seven U.S. Patents for his research, and his publications and patents are frequently cited. His doctoral research focused on the founding technology for the RFID manufacturer Alien Technology.

Students considering pursuing a degree through the Department of Engineering and Computer Science can choose from three primary programs, allowing focused study in areas of interest. The BS in Computer Science degree offers students engaging experience in learning to solve complex problems through computer systems. Through this program, students can tailor their education to specific emphases, including artificial intelligence, advanced database applications programming, or software system development.

The BS in Computer Information Systems program prepares students with the technical expertise and organizational knowledge necessary to do business in a rapidly changing technological environment. This curriculum offers interactive hands-on learning in concentrations such as artificial intelligence, telecommunication, and web programming.

The BS in Engineering degree equips students with the necessary skills for careers across a wide range of industries. Through the program’s informed curriculum, students are able to pursue engineering opportunities in fields such as aerospace, agriculture, automotive, business, defense, energy, healthcare, and telecommunications.

APU's ECS program offers many unique benefits and opportunities for students, making it a competitive choice for those looking to pursue collegiate engineering and computer science degrees. Students experience small class sizes, helping to build valuable connections with faculty and peers in the same field. Professors are personally invested in the success of each student, offering one-on-one academic advising throughout the duration of the program to assist students in gearing their studies toward their passion. APU alumni are currently working at Tesla, Raytheon, Northrop-Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Aerospace Corp, Paypal, YouTube, and Google.

“Companies that hire APU graduates continue to do so,” Yeh said. “Our students come out of the program prepared with the skills and knowledge for successful careers. The eagerness of organizations to keep hiring APU students is a testament to this.”

Integral to its success, APU’s ECS program is provided guidance from an advisory board, composed of accomplished industry professionals from prominent organizations and companies. “The advisory board is made up of CEOs, retired executives of companies, and other prominent industry figures as well as administrators and representatives from APU," Yeh said. "Our meetings direct our curriculum design, making sure that what our students are learning is appropriate and practical in a rapidly-changing industry. In addition, board members help students find internships, jobs, and other opportunities, either while they’re still in the program or after they have graduated."

David Simmeth, a current member of the advisory board, noted that the board assists in designing useful and effective curriculum. “With an industry relevant curriculum taught by experienced faculty, APU’s ECS department prepares students to be future leaders in industry, with a strong foundation in their faith.”

Consistent with APU’s God-First mission, the ECS program integrates faith into all classes. Students gain more than just skills and connections in engineering and computer science—they learn how Christian ethics and principles can play into every part of their lives and careers.

“We train talented and hard-working engineers and computer scientists with an understanding of the ethical and societal dilemmas in their careers, helping them to make the right decisions with God at the center,” said Yeh.

Looking forward, the Department of Engineering and Computer Science aims to continue improving its program and providing more valuable opportunities for students. The department is in the process of furthering accreditation for their degrees, which would help promote ECS courses as a competitive and well-renowned program across national standards. Accreditation provides students and educational institutions with standardized recognition of their academic quality, making APU’s degrees even more valuable to students pursuing jobs and graduate school. With these enhancements in mind, the program is committed to continue equipping well-rounded engineers and computer scientists with the skills they need to thrive as difference-makers in the industry.