The School of Engineering is located in McAuliffe Hall. Contributed Photo.

Two dual-degree programs in Fairfield University’s School of Engineering have been approved by the State of Connecticut Board of Regents.

Dual-degree programs are on the rise; the  job market now demands expertise in more than one discipline.

Fairfield engineering students will have the option to either obtain a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering or obtain a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. Both options can be completed in a five-year sequence.

The two programs joins the engineering school’s already existing five-year, dual-degree program which awards students a bachelor’s and master’s degree in software engineering.The time it takes to get a bachelor and master’s degree is usually six years, so the new programs represent “substantial savings, both in time and money,” according to program director Dr. Douglas Lyon.

Dr. Douglas Lyon. Photo by Jean Santopatre

Dr. Douglas Lyon. Photo by Jean Santopatre

Lyon, chairman of the computer engineering discipline, said that the new programs started with proposals in 2011 and the school worked “very hard” to get approval through several committees such as the Undergraduate Curriculum and the engineering school’s Deans Council.

Fairfield’s institutional records show that, excluding the incoming freshmen, approximately 118 undergraduates and 123 graduates are enrolled in the School of Engineering. Disciplines include software, computer, electrical, automatic manufacturing and mechanical engineering. Lyon hopes that many will take advantage of the new dual-degree programs.

Not only will the programs save money, but they will also help students earn money in the long run. “People often ask if college is worth the cost. In the field of engineering, it translates directly into higher earning power,” Lyon said.

Computer engineers start at fewer than $70,000 a year, according to figures from Forbes magazine. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2012 mechanical engineers’ median annual salary was  $84,770. As of May 2012, the BLS estimates electrical engineers have a median salary of $91,810.

Lyon, citing the website engineering.com, said that a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering “generally adds an extra $10k in starting salary with raises and improved employment outlook that makes the [master’s degree] a great investment in the future.”

Rising sophomore Michael LoTurco said that the programs sound “interesting,” but feels that they don’t benefit him: “As a mechanical engineer major, I would like to see a program that pairs a BS in mechanical with an MS in electrical engineering as I think the two fields can be very useful together.”

But, “if I was looking at a degree in computer engineering, then I would definitely participate in the program,” LoTurco added.

Lyon said that more dual-degree programs are still in their proposal stages and need more committee time.

Rising senior electrical engineering student Robert Garrone said that by adding these programs, “Fairfield is definitely improving upon the engineering school’s standing and it is in an advantageous position to do so given its intimate class setting and its location.” He also liked that getting two degrees is “more lucrative” than just a bachelor’s degree.

To be considered in the programs, applicants must be admitted as undergraduates. Before proceeding to graduate school, students must complete 100 hours and have at least a 3.0 GPA. Students need 154 credit hours to graduate with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

For more information, contact Dr. Douglas Lyon at dlyon@fairfield.edu or (203) 254-4000, ext. 3155.

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