New Engineering Program and Department Form to Meet High Demand

by University Relations

Starting this fall, students eager to compete in the complex global arena of systems engineering can prepare for the challenge at Azusa Pacific. Last June, the Academic Cabinet approved a proposal to launch a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering program. A highly marketable, interdisciplinary field, systems engineering applies standard engineering principles, processes, and practices to coordinate the various tasks of a system to ensure that performance, reliability, cost, and schedule requirements are met. Students majoring in systems engineering will be exposed to electrical, mechanical, industrial, and computer/software engineering; participate in internships and hands-on systems engineering projects with government and industry partners; and expect job opportunities in a wide range of fields, including aerospace, agriculture, automotive/transportation, business, defense, energy, health care/medical, and telecommunications.

The program will be housed in the new Department of Engineering and Computer Science, along with the computer information systems and information technology programs and the Center for Research in Science (CRIS). “Only nine universities in the United States offer an undergraduate degree program in systems engineering, and none of them are Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) schools,” said the new department’s chair, Leslie Wickman, Ph.D., professor and CRIS director. “APU will help set the CCCU standard in this growing and versatile field, pioneering ways to implement a high-quality systems engineering education at the undergraduate level. Unique to APU’s program, the faith-integrated curriculum will include a service-based concentration appropriate for mission-oriented technologies, focusing on sustainably engineered systems (water, cooking, sanitation, energy, and agriculture) to developing countries.”

The program proposal involved the collaborative efforts of Tedd Szeto, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Math and Physics; several faculty members; and Wickman, who joined APU as a full-time faculty member in 2000 after a distinguished career as a research scientist and engineer for the RAND Corporation, Lockheed Martin, NASA’s Ames Research Center, and Stanford University. Wickman teaches courses in astronomy, sponsors several important research projects focused on the intersection of science and faith, and hosts a yearlong speaker series featuring renowned researchers and scientists.

“Given the increased demand for systems engineers, the development of such a program meets a rapidly growing marketplace need,” said Jennifer Walsh, Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Further, it exemplifies APU’s commitment to critical science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, generating a synergy among these majors and creating a dynamic environment that facilitates innovation and interdisciplinary scholarship.”

Originally published in the Fall '14 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.