This year, the Fairfield University School of Engineering turns 25 years old and celebrates the acquisition of the Bridgeport Engineering Institute, where graduate students used to participate in programs that supported the needs of the Connecticut industrial community. The institution is no longer in use today; however, since this acquisition, the total number of faculty and students in the School of Engineering has increased, as well as recognition of the school as a whole.
Currently, the school has four undergraduate programs: mechanical engineering, bioengineering, electrical engineering and computer science. The school also has five graduate programs to offer in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, software engineering, computer science and applied data science. There are approximately 300 undergraduate students and approximately 100 graduate students currently in attendance.
“The fact that Fairfield SOE is willing to introduce new, relevant programs, like bioengineering, is awesome, but it would be nice to see those programs receive support,” said Katherine Unfried ‘19. “Will we be an ABET [Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.] accredited program before graduation? Only time will tell.”
Unfried added, “I would appreciate a full-time professor for bioengineering, and it would be great if they would run all the classes we need to graduate during our last semester.”
Richard Heist, Ph.D., took on the role of interim dean of the School of Engineering in the beginning of the 2018-19 school year. So far, he is extremely impressed with the faculty and students in the school and has high hopes for what is to come. “We have a very dedicated faculty who are excellent teachers along with a growing cadre of applied research-interested faculty,” says Heist. “91 percent of our students take advantage of internship opportunities and all of our graduates get hired or go on to advanced graduate study.”
As the STEM fields become more in demand, Heist reflects on how Fairfield students will have an advantage. “The further maturing of the School of Engineering in its second quarter century, along with all of these high-growth applied research areas, will foster a strengthening of STEM awareness on our campus,” Heist remarks.
Heist also gave insight on how the University’s engineering programs rank against other universities in the nation. He states Fairfield has, “dedicated faculty, excellent teachers, a growing cadre of applied research-interested faculty, applied research in cutting edge areas, and the opportunities our students have to work with faculty on their applied research investigations, as well as many internship opportunities and industry collaborations.”
First-year Sachin Verma believes the School of Engineering is already preparing him well for a future career in engineering. “I have already started taking specialized classes that include a great deal of hands-on and theoretical work,” Verma commented. “I also feel like I am being prepared, and will be more-so in the future, for internships and opportunities that transcend the classroom.”
When asked where she would like to see the School of Engineering in the next 25 years, mechanical engineering major Kaitlyn Nelson ‘19 replied,“In the next 25 years the engineering school would really benefit from having its own building.”