SFA Adds Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Degrees | New

The Department of Physics, Engineering, and Astronomy will begin offering degrees in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering this fall.

Previously, the department only offered a degree in engineering physics with the option of a concentration in mechanical or electrical engineering.

Hector Ochoa, associate professor of electrical engineering, said the process of earning more engineering degrees at the SFA began years ago thanks to Dan Bruton, professor and director of the planetarium.

“Bruton has continued to work hard over the years to build a strong case for getting the degrees approved,” Ochoa said. “By leveraging the knowledge gained from the engineering physics degree and current technology trends in Texas, the department was able to present a strong proposal to add the electrical and mechanical engineering programs.”

Hacer Varol, an assistant professor in the department, said the new programs will allow students to take more mechanical or electrical engineering courses to prepare them for the job market.

“According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth in these two fields will be approximately 7% from today to 2030. It can be argued that this rate may be higher than expected due high earning potential, stable work schedule and prestige,” Varol said.

She said the SFA has seen an increase in the number of engineering students, over 7%, and believes that having “more marketable and visible degree programs” will attract more students.

The two new engineering degrees have not yet been accredited by the Engineering and Technology Accreditation Board, which Ochoa says is essential for an engineering degree because most employers don’t will not hire a graduate of an unaccredited program.

Rickey McDaniel, head of the department, said ABET accreditation means an engineering program has been assessed and meets “agreed quality standards for the engineering profession”. But he said the accreditation process is not easy.

“For example, one of the requirements to apply for ABET accreditation is that a degree must have at least one student who has gone through the entire program and graduated before we can apply for accreditation,” McDaniel said. “The purpose of this requirement is for ABET not to accredit what you plan to do in the future, but rather for them to review what you have actually done and how it fits their requirements.”

However, Ochoa said that doesn’t mean the new programs are worth it, nor should students be shy about completing the programs.

“The Department of Physics, Engineering and Astronomy engineering team is working hard to get everything ready to apply for accreditation once we release our first graduate,” Ochoa said. “A good thing about this is that ABET provides retroactive accreditation for two years. Once we apply and receive ABET accreditation, if all goes well during the review process, those graduates would be covered.

Faculty in the department said they were excited to begin offering these programs to students and begin preparing them for careers in electrical and mechanical engineering. Students graduating from the programs will have the opportunity to work for major companies like Oncor, Lockheed Martin, GE Aerospace, Boeing, NASA and many more.

Anyone interested in SFA’s engineering programs can email the department at [email protected] or visit the SFA website for more information.

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