Envisioned Master’s Programs in Making and Big Data Aim to Address Engineering’s Skill and Diversity Gaps
Envisioned Master’s Programs in Making and Big Data Aim to Address Engineering’s Skill and Diversity Gaps

by Karen Grava
Director of Media Relations

A team of innovators and globally recognized technology and educational leaders, founded as New Engineering University (“NEU”), announced on Sunday at the Maker Faire in New York City that they will join creative and intellectual forces to develop programs in partnership with UNH to re-engineer engineering education in Big Data and create the nation’s first degree in Making that builds on the phenomenon of the Maker Movement.

The programs will be designed to foster unmatched diversity in engineering education and deliver an industry-connected experience to meet hiring needs in growing sectors of the economy.

(L-R) Dale Dougherty, Ronald S. Harichandran and Dan May.

The first program is targeted to be a one-year Master of Engineering degree in Big Data to be offered at a Maker space-like facility in Palo Alto, Calif.

Early supporters for the program including MAKE, the drivers of the Maker Movement; the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media, led by the Academy Award-winning actor; Codecademy, the online coding platform; and GoldieBlox, the celebrated female-targeted engineering toy company, are just some of the groups that will reach out to their extensive networks of engineers to identify candidates for the inaugural class. 

Davis said at the announcement at the Maker Faire that not enough women are attracted to engineering. “I would like to personally add my thanks to NEU and the University of New Haven for having the foresight to create this groundbreaking program that will change the landscape of engineering around the world,” she said.

Dale Dougherty, founder of the Maker Faire, said he hopes the faire inspires people to “see what’s possible. We can change the world literally.” New engineering programs and curriculum revisions are necessary, however, since students interested in making are anxious to make things starting on the first day of college.

“What worries me is when I see how many kids and adults as well those who are inspired by the faire… but where do they go on Monday or on Tuesday and Wednesday the following week?” he said.

NEU and UNH are developing the curricula for offerings in big data and making and engaging industry support. An external advisory council comprising industry and academic leaders will guide the design of curricula and programs.

UNH is preparing to seek state authorizations for the programs once the curricula are developed. Recruitment will begin after the programs are approved. One of the goals of the program is to enroll a class with a diverse student body where at least half of the students will be women, challenging the current environment in which just 11 percent of practicing engineers are female.

“Existing engineering programs are not attracting enough students, and certainly not a representative mix of students,” said Scott Kauffman, CEO of NEU. “And there is an unintentional disconnect between traditional higher education and the employment needs of American corporations. Last year, nearly 90 percent of U.S. companies reported difficulty hiring engineering talent, and 1.7 million cloud-related jobs went unfilled globally in a sector that will produce 14 million jobs by 2015. The talent gap is a global crisis that we and our mission-aligned institutions will address through an entirely new breed of engineering program.”

“This partnership is an outstanding opportunity to explore innovative curricula with industry partners,” said Daniel May, UNH provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “UNH provides the highest-quality education through experiential, collaborative and discovery-based learning in partnership with industry leaders, and together we will extend our leadership into the highest growth technical sectors of the economy.”

The envisioned debut program in Big Data will target recent engineering graduates and underemployed engineers to prepare them for leadership positions in data-centric businesses by integrating the hiring needs of employers into the curriculum and learning experiences. 

The program’s education model features:
•    A hands-on curriculum that maximizes teamwork and uses real-world projects
•    Mentor-driven teaching from industry practitioners, furthering employer ties
•    Learning environments with technology-enabled simulations and real-time projects
•    Online learning, where appropriate, to target and improve retention and learning outcomes

“These carefully selected elements, delivered in a dramatically expansive physical environment, combine to create a new breed of engineer - smart, diverse, creative and passionate about making a difference in the world,” added Kauffman. “Our ultimate goal is to enable our graduates to enter a high-growth industry in a climate where half of all students graduating from the U.S. higher education system are underemployed.”

Once approvals are received from the states of Connecticut and California, recruitment and instruction will begin, with degrees to be awarded by UNH.

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