Growth within the four areas of the UCCS doctoral program for engineering led the CU Board of Regents to unanimously approve the split of the program into three separate Ph.D. degrees in engineering, computer science and security during the board’s regular meeting Nov. 9. The new programs will increase the number of doctoral programs at UCCS to seven by fall 2019.
“These new degree programs will better reflect the needs of each discipline as the engineering doctoral program has evolved in the last 20 years,” said Tom Christensen, Provost and executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. “The program has seen tremendous growth just in the last 10 years as the demand for our graduates has increased.”
The four tracks in electrical engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, computer science and security for the engineering degree program already operated independently because of the differences in scholarship and research. The split will allow for more accurate information on enrollment, curriculum and finances, along with student recruitment and degree identification. It will not involve hiring new faculty and staff, or the development of new courses.
“Our college faculty, particularly those externally funded, bring in resources and reputation that significantly contributed to the growth and quality of the Ph.D. programs,” said Xiaobo “Charles” Zhou, interim dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science and professor of Computer Science. “The new programs will provide better marketing as well as degree identifications for students, but also strengthen the distinct areas of scholarship and research.”
UCCS offered its first engineering doctoral programs with CU Boulder in 1986 and established its first standalone engineering doctoral program in 1997 with computer science. Within that engineering program, electrical engineering was added in 1998, and mechanical and aerospace engineering in 2003, and security in 2009. Since 2009, enrollment in the engineering doctoral program grew 736 percent. The current program includes 36 students in security, 32 in computer science and 23 in the electrical, mechanical and aerospace engineering areas.
“For a city or a community to excel and grow, it needs an anchoring in a great university where new knowledge is continuously created,” said Jugal Kalita, professor and chair of the Computer Science Department. “Having two additional Ph.D. programs is a stepping stone to building a university that can add new knowledge of theoretical and practical significance to the repository of human knowledge, so that we fulfill our greater mission to the city, region, state and the nation.”
The move completes a major goal in the 2020 Strategic Plan that called for the university to add seven bachelor’s degrees, four master’s programs and one doctoral program. Since the plan was implemented in 2012, the university has added 10 bachelor’s and four master’s programs, and the engineering split will add two new doctoral programs.
With Regent approval, the proposal moves to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education for state approval.