FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- In the world of science, technology and engineering, innovations happen every day. However, for a group of students and professors at Sacred Heart University, each day marks a new chapter in a different kind of pioneering. That's because these engineers-to-be and their faculty advisors are part of the university's first-ever Computer Engineering program.
Founded in fall 2017, Sacred Heart's Computer Engineering program, which is housed in the School of Computing, was formed as a response to the growing need for engineers in the workforce. "There are not enough engineers in the United States," said Dr. Tolga Kaya, program director of the newly-formed major. "We found [engineering] students are finding jobs early and getting multiple offers." Already known for its strong background in computer science, the school sought to address this need head on by building an engineering program from scratch.
Kaya, who received his Ph.D in Turkey but spent several years studying and working at Yale University, was a natural choice for leading the new department. "I saw that Sacred Heart was beginning this program and felt I would be a great fit to help build it from scratch," he said.
Currently in its first year, the Computer Engineering major is designed to do more than just teach students how to code. "Computer engineering is about developing digital systems that can be incorporated in different industries," said Kaya. "It's incorporated in automotive, aeronautical and biomedical fields, really any place that has a hardware component." Since students are exposed to a wide array of industries and applications, partnering with businesses and leaders has been extremely valuable.
For instance, Sacred Heart has developed a close relationship with Stratford-based aeronautics giant Sikorsky, through which students are able to obtain internships, tour facilities and learn from guest lecturers.
Thanks to Sacred Heart's liberal arts tradition, engineering students are also able to hone their skills in an area that traditionally stymies many in the field. "Engineers generally don't have strong communication skills, but at SHU students develop that very valuable skill through seminars and a liberal arts core," said Kaya. "Not only are we giving them technology knowledge, but we're preparing student to communicate within their field as well. This makes them quite sought after in the industry."
40 students are currently taking freshman engineering courses, and enrollment numbers are expected to grow with each incoming class. However, Kaya and other professor still look to offer students a personalized education experience. "We know our students," said Kaya. "We know what they do, where they live and what their hobbies are. We really create this strong bond where they have the opportunity to receive guidance from faculty one on one."
For more information on Sacred Heart University's Computer Engineering department, click here.