College of Engineering offers new concentrations in growth fields

Biomedical engineering, cyber security, and environmental resources engineering introduced this fall and will allow students to specialize

Female student in sterile bioengineering laboratory
Biomedical engineering is one of the fastest-growing engineering disciplines.

Advances in medical science, the growing need to protect against cyberattacks, and the ability to manage the environmental impact of development are the focus of three new concentrations introduced by the College of Engineering this fall.

“We would like our students to be prepared to address challenges facing society,” said Jean VanderGheynst, dean of the College of Engineering. “These new concentrations will give our students the ability to tailor their major coursework through specializations. These are also areas where we envision significant employment demand in this region and in the Commonwealth.”

Due to the rigor of these programs, students will enroll in their second year, beginning in the fall 2019 semester. Each of these concentrations requires the completion of a senior capstone project in the major program of study.

The academic and research experiences offered by these programs will prepare students for accelerated master’s degree and doctoral programs, or careers and leadership roles in their fields.

Two new faculty members, assistant professors Ruolin Zhou and Caiwei Shen, were recruited in key areas focusing on novel energy materials, cyber security, and the Internet of Things.

Two students in bioengineering laboratory conducting an experiment
In the new biomedical engineering concentration, students will integrate engineering principles with the medical sciences.

Biomedical engineering combines engineering principles with medical science

The Department of Bioengineering is offering a concentration in biomedical engineering within the bachelor of science degree that combines the life sciences, medicine, engineering principles, and material design.

Students can concentrate in courses with specific themes to earn their undergraduate degree in bioengineering with the biomedical engineering concentration. Two themes are offered: Cell & Tissue Engineering and Medical Device & Manufacturing.

Students will learn to integrate engineering principles with the medical sciences to design and create medicines, artificial tissues and organs, devices, and computer systems and software to improve human health.

“The greater Boston area has many biomedical and biopharmaceutical companies, and graduates with a biomedical engineering concentration can find themselves more employable in the region,” said Qinguo Fan, professor of bioengineering.

The rigorous multidisciplinary program will explore cell and tissue engineering with courses in nanotechnology, immunology, human organogenesis, and material surfaces. Courses in implantable sensors, robotics, medical ultrasonics, and FDA regulations will prepare students to develop and understand medical devices.

Bioengineering is one of the fastest-growing engineering disciplines.  Jobs in biomedical engineering are expected to grow 23% through 2024, much faster than average according to the U.S. Department of Labor forecasts. This is due, in part, to an aging population and increased focus on health issues.

Opportunities for bioengineers will grow in manufacturing, teaching, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, research, patent offices, prosthetics and medical device manufacturing, and in other educational and medical fields.

Female and male students in front of computer
Cyber security classes will include computer forensics, cyber threats and security management, design and implementation, and network security.

Cyber security is a fast-growing field in computer engineering

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is offering a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering with a concentration in cyber security. Another one of the fastest-growing fields in computer engineering, cyber security studies the application of measures to protect computers and computer systems from unauthorized access and attack. 

According to Lance Fiondella, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, incidents in the corporate sector and in government agencies, along with a tremendous increase in student interest, led to the concentration in cyber security. The Engineering Alumni Advisory Board, comprised of successful engineering executives, encouraged the college to develop this concentration to utilize its strengths and fill industry needs, said Fiondella.

“We had the expertise to create the concentration,” he said. “This is a field where demand far exceeds supply. Companies can’t fill their open positions with premium salaries. Students need to learn the fundamentals and understand the real engineering that goes into work related to cyber security. Offering the BS degree and concentrations will enhance the employability and income of our graduates.”

Students will explore the foundations of cyber security, including hardware, software, and information systems, as well as today’s issues of software reliability, security risk, the Internet of Things, and smart and connected cities.

Classes will include computer forensics, cyber threats and security management, design and implementation, and network security.

“Our program already transitions students to learn the fundamentals of computer operating systems, embedded systems, and design,” said Fiondella.  “We will be teaching them better design skills for the modern world so they’re not just thinking about building systems, but building systems with security built in.”

Two male civil engineering students with liquid in beaker
The long-term need for engineers with expertise in environmental resources continues to grow .

Environmental resources engineering offers a broad understanding of environmental issues

The bachelor’s degree in civil engineering is being offered with a new concentration in environmental resources engineering.

Students will gain in-depth knowledge of environmental engineering and awareness of potential social, economic, political, and environmental impacts of engineering practices.  They will prepare to apply civil engineering principles and processes to solve problems relating to water and air pollution, solid waste and hazardous waste management, renewable energy, and water resources engineering.

The concentration was developed, said Daniel MacDonald, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, “to meet a growing need for engineers capable of understanding environmental resources in a more complete way, including the identification and mitigation of environmental impacts and effective harvesting of environmental resources such as renewable energy, including marine and geothermal sources.”

While the 20th-century approach to environmental engineering was focused on treatment, the newer approach is to develop engineers with a broader understanding of the environment and how engineered systems interact with this environment, according to MacDonald. “We deliberately chose to develop a concentration in environmental resources engineering to address these broader issues,” he said.

“There is no doubt that the long-term job growth and significance of workers with expertise in environmental resources engineering will continue to grow, given that both energy issues and water resources are both intrinsically tied to the environment,” said MacDonald. “These two areas will continue to be major societal challenges throughout the 21st century.”

The program emphasizes the assessment of the environmental impact of new or existing products or processes, methods of solving problems resulting from pollution, and the management of energy and resources to minimize pollution.

Course work areas will include environmental chemistry and fluid dynamics, as well as marine/coastal engineering, geoenvironmental engineering, and water resources engineering, among others.

As part of this concentration, a course in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) will be offered across the engineering curriculum, said MacDonald. The department also hopes to integrate more cross-disciplinary coursework into the concentration, not only within the College of Engineering, but within the College of Arts and Sciences and the School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST) as well.

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