engineering building UCCS

UCCS’ engineering doctoral program will split into three separate Ph.D. degrees in engineering, computer science and security, bringing the university’s number of doctoral programs to seven by fall 2019.

The decision was driven by 736 percent growth in the engineering Ph.D. program since 2009, UCCS announced in a news release this morning, and was approved unanimously by the CU Board of Regents Nov. 9.

“These new degree programs will better reflect the needs of each discipline as the engineering doctoral program has evolved in the last 20 years,” Tom Christensen, provost and executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said in the release. “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, according to the release.

The split will not involve hiring new faculty and staff, or the development of new courses. It will allow for more accurate information on enrollment, curriculum and finances, along with student recruitment and degree identification.

“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,” Xiaobo “Charles” Zhou, interim dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science and professor of computer science, said in the release. “The new programs will provide better marketing as well as degree identifications for students, but also strengthen the distinct areas of scholarship and research.”

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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, in the release. “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, according to the release. 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.