Today’s competitive job landscape means lifelong learning is critical in providing us with opportunities for career progression. This is especially true for engineers who need to tackle current challenges in their chosen industry as well as in the world.
Choosing the right university could equip you with the necessary skills, knowledge, and experiences to stand out in a competitive talent pool –– a fact the Lamar University (LU) College of Engineering knows best. Its understanding of the industry is evident in how well its faculty and students address industry needs. Across departments, the College believes software skills are fundamental to engineering students. Each department teaches foundational skills that are ideal for students without programming backgrounds.
Applied research involving software occurs in all departments. Last year, assistant professor in electrical engineering, Dr. Hassan Zargarzadeh, was tasked to enable LU’s Robotics and Intelligent Control Systems Lab to pioneer research in artificial intelligence that will improve processes. The Center for Operator Performance awarded Dr. James Henry, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, a total of US$141,027 for research related to the workload of machine operators.
Recently, Dr. Maryam Hamidi, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering, Co-PI Dr. Brian Craig, dean of the College of Engineering, and doctoral engineering candidate, Masood Jafari Kang, were awarded a significant research contract by Iron Horse Terminals. They were tasked to develop a railyard management software that could monitor and control traffic in the terminal.
Dr. Hamidi is one of the main reasons why Masood Jafari Kang from Iran chose LU in the first place. Learning of Dr. Hamidi’s research through a lengthy Skype call helped him realise his passion for research in industrial and systems engineering. It was a natural progression to enroll in LU’s Doctor of Engineering in Industrial and Systems Engineering programme, especially coming from a family of engineers. While most international students receive 1,000 US dollar scholarships that qualify them for instate tuition, Kang was offered a fully-funded position.
So far, his Doctor of Engineering in Industrial and Systems Engineering programme has been everything he thought it would be: experiential and skill-oriented. He had the opportunity to engage in real-world challenges faced by industries in the field. This included a study of waterway traffic for Houston Pilots and innovating warehouse optimisation for Port of Beaumont.
His memorable experience to date has been his work with Iron Horse Terminals. “It boosted my knowledge in app development, object-oriented programming, and database design,” he says. None of this would have been possible without the unique applied programme that taught him to implement industrial engineering solutions with Python.
Dr. James Curry of the Department of Industrial Engineering confirms this: “Our graduate students use software to solve industry-relevant research problems such as developing railyard scheduling software, identifying workers not using earplugs, text mining of maritime safety data, developing car user interfaces, controlling machine tools, and predicting compressor failures with sensor data.”
To cater to students specifically interested in programming, the College of Engineering designed a STEM-designated (for OPT USCIS regulation purposes) Master of Engineering Management degree focusing on software development for engineers. The 30-hour non-thesis programme enables students to gain interdisciplinary knowledge through courses from the College of Engineering, College of Business, Computer Science, and the College of Arts and Sciences.
“When I was writing my data mining thesis class, I had to use Python,” explains alumni Vaibhav Chauhan . “Other courses, such as database and heuristic algorithms, also helped me to develop a programmer’s mindset.”
The College of Engineering has innovated several other offerings to boost the employability of tomorrow’s engineers. For instance, it signed a memorandum of understanding with Emerson, a global technology and engineering leader, to ensure its students are prepared with the latest digital transformation technologies and advanced process automation, instrumentation, and control equipment that are not only relevant today, but also in the future.
Its new Centre for Resiliency is just as robust –– it serves as a designated space that focuses on research, community outreach, and teaching to support the body of knowledge surrounding disaster preparation, mitigation, and recovery, especially for major storm events.
Students of various engineering backgrounds are spoiled for choice within the College’s five academic departments. The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department, for instance, is a leader in developing control systems for chemical plants. Meanwhile, the Electrical, Mechanical, and Industrial departments teach future-focused coursework while conducting robotics and automation research.
Regardless of the path you choose, the College of Engineering will stay true to its commitment to providing students with a personalised education in a collaborative, family-like setting. “It is important for me to have a friendly student-professor relationship in my classes,” says Associate Professor Hassan Zargarzadeh. “With our low faculty-to-student ratio, I can spend more one-on-one time with my students.”
Pair expert guidance with endless possibilities, students will be guaranteed a smooth journey to engineering mastery –– one that will pay off. A 20-year post-graduation ROI report by PayScale affirms this, ranking LU second out of more than 500 US colleges.
To learn more about joining the LU’s College of Engineering, click here.