Wednesday, September 8, 2010
OU to bolster academic offerings with three new degree programs By Dan Bodene, staff writer
Three new degree programs – two at master’s level and one baccalaureate – were recently approved by Oakland University’s Board of Trustees.
A new Master of Science in Mechatronics was developed out of the need for multi-disciplinary engineering specialties.
Mechatronics is a hybrid field of mechanical, electronic, computer and control engineering. It has applications in consumer products, manufacturing, transportation and security systems, defense, aerospace, sports engineering and biomedical systems.
“It is ubiquitous in automotive systems, because modern cars rely heavily on their electronic circuits and computer systems to operate and control their electromechanical devices,” said Manohar Das, Ph.D., a professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Therefore, mechatronics is a very important engineering discipline for the state of Michigan.”
OU’s program will be administered jointly by the departments of electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical engineering through the School of Engineering and Computer Science. Only one other school in Michigan offers a program in mechatronics.
“Currently, we don't offer a bachelor's degree in mechatronics, because it is intended to be a field of specialization,” said Dr. Das. “The master's degree in mechatronics will serve as an advanced field of specialization for students who already have an undergraduate degree in computer engineering, electrical engineering or mechanical engineering.”
The other advanced degree program approved by the OU board is a Master of Arts in Communication.
It is the only program in the state offering a programmatic focus on critical cultural communication studies. The program also offers area concentrations in interpersonal communication and media studies.
“Our program is structured with our students in mind,” said Jennifer Heisler, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication and Journalism. “We designed the program using feedback from current students and alumni. Additionally, we wanted to offer something unique to the area. We knew there were a lot of very good graduate programs in the metro area; we were mindful of this when developing our program. We didn't want to be a copy of anyone else – and I think we were successful.”
Heisler said graduates will be expected to contribute to building productive relationships across divisions of identity, culture and geography; and in working for more sustainable, equitable and enriched communities.
The program provides an excellent foundation for those wishing to pursue a Ph.D. in communication or a related discipline (for example, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, American studies or cultural studies) or for those desiring to teach at the community college level. Practitioners in business, media or non-profit organizations seeking professional enhancement will likewise benefit from enrolling in the program.
The new Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, like the existing Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, is a college-wide initiative whose objectives are in harmony with the goals of a liberal education: to cultivate the individual’s ability to integrate diverse fields of human knowledge and activity.
The program will appeal to new college students who are passionate about more than one field of study and will provide an alternative to a single disciplinary major.
The program begins with two foundation courses and builds on an interdisciplinary concentration or a combination of two minors within the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). It culminates with a two-semester capstone thesis. First-year students can explore multiple disciplines before committing to a specific major, or can stay interdisciplinary with the Liberal Studies major.
“We designed the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies degree to serve the needs of graduates in the 21st century who will probably need to feel comfortable in a world of interdisciplinary problem-solving,” said Ron Sudol, Ph.D., dean of CAS. “Creation and innovation usually arise when alternative perspectives intersect. We think students will be excited by the prospect of combining minors in almost countless variations – especially those students who are undecided about a major.”
No new full-time faculty are being sought initially within any of the three new degree programs.