WSU Launches Four Engineering Programs, Offers Free Mental Health Assistance to First Responders

Detroit’s Wayne State University College of Engineering is launching four academic programs in time for the fall semester: Bachelor of Science in information technology; Bachelor of Science in welding and metallurgical engineering technology; Master of Science in robotics; and Master of Science in environmental and sustainability engineering.
WSU is launching four engineering programs including a bachelor’s degree in welding and metallurgical engineering technology. // Photo courtesy of Wayne State University

Detroit’s Wayne State University College of Engineering is launching four academic programs in time for the fall semester: Bachelor of Science in information technology; Bachelor of Science in welding and metallurgical engineering technology; Master of Science in robotics; and Master of Science in environmental and sustainability engineering.

For the bachelor’s in information technology, WSU is realigning curricula that was split between three programs in the College of Engineering and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the latter previously offered Bachelor of Arts in computer science and information systems technology.

The new streamlined program housed within the College of Engineering’s department of computer science will offer an updated and improved degree to more than 900 students with majors across the three programs.

“Adding these programs allows us to diversify our curricula and remain on the forefront of industrial and societal trends,” says Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering. “Students at Wayne State will greatly benefit from new educational and research opportunities that will ensure relevancy of their skills when they graduate.”

The program will incorporate a less mathematically oriented and more applied computing education than its predecessors. It will also simplify advising, reduce time to degree completion for students who decide to change majors within the department, and permit greater access to many existing resources, including instructors, courses, and computing facilities.

“Through the use of state-of-the-art software and hardware, students will develop their programming skills in order to apply these learned techniques when analyzing an information technology problem, evaluating possible solutions, and creating a course of action as part of an organizational development team,” says Loren Schwiebert, department chair and associate professor of computer science.

About half of the enrollment in Schwiebert’s department is composed of transfer students, and many nearby community colleges offer two-year programs in computer information systems.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics project careers in information technology will grow 12 percent by 2028.

The bachelor’s degree in welding and metallurgical engineering technology will be an upper two-year curriculum for students who have completed their first two years in a welding or comparable program elsewhere. There are nearly 1,000 students enrolled in welding courses at Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, and Washtenaw community colleges combined. WSU is the second university in Michigan to offer a four-year degree in welding.

“Metallurgy and welding are two technologies that have roots in the Industrial Revolution, where the joining of metals began with the forge welding of pig or wrought iron,” says Ece Yaprak, chair of the division of engineering technology. “Because of their fundamental nature, these technologies are intertwined.”

More than half of all man-made products in the U.S. require the work of welders but, according to the American Welding Society, there will be a shortage of up to 450,000 welding professionals by 2022. Infrastructure is aging, new materials are emerging, and an emphasis on quality in advanced manufacturing is increasing.

Student courses will cover topics such as thermodynamics, design, automation and robotics, and structural analysis. The courses will be taught by faculty in the Division of Engineering Technology as well as adjunct lecturers from industry partners including General Motors and Tenneco.

Graduates are expected to have the credentials to take on leadership roles in the industry.

The master’s degree in environmental sustainability engineering allows students to receive a degree that clearly designates an environmental specialization, taking it a step further than WSU’s civil engineering offering.

“The term sustainability means something different to everyone, but we might agree that it’s a three-way balancing act among social equity, economic stabilization, and environmental and infrastructure quality,” says Bill Shuster, professor and chair of the department of civil and environmental engineering. “We saw a need to inform and educate students at the master’s level on how this balancing act is tied to an expanded view of civil and environmental engineering. This curriculum sets the basis for the incorporation of these concepts into engineering practice.”

About 90 percent of the 225 students who study civil engineering at WSU come from Michigan. They have been positioned to tackle challenges in the Great Lakes region concerning the transportation systems, water and air quality, green infrastructure, land conservation, and general public health. WSU is the only research institution in the state with three urban water research sites.

“Detroit is firmly in the midst of great change, seeing potential for social change and economic growth,” Shuster says. “We offer an interdisciplinary approach to view change in terms of sustainability, and from a unique vantage point — serving Detroiters, examining common urban challenges, and using sustainability concepts to develop engineered solutions that can serve at the local, state, national, and international levels.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of environmental engineers is projected to grow by 8 percent through 2026, faster than the national averages. Forbes ranked environmental engineering as the fifth most valuable college major in terms of salary and career prospects.

The master’s degree in robotics will deliver industry-driven, hands-on learning content to students looking to join an emergent workforce of technologists and automation specialists. It is part of the College of Engineering’s ongoing strategy to present a broader set of degrees and certificates focused on autonomous driving, connectivity, smart infrastructure, and electrification.

Robotics are becoming more integrated into daily life as technology-driven environments evolve, particularly in the areas of mobility, manufacturing, agriculture, health care, and supply chain management. It is estimated that the industrial robotics market will expand nearly 12 percent annually to more than $33 billion in the next decade.

“This is a very timely program with a lot of excitement. Robotics is already having an impact on many facets of our society,” says Abhilash Pandya, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. “The field is inherently multidisciplinary and will get students to think with a systems approach starting with the applications to simulation, mathematics, hardware, and software.”

Students can choose from three concentration tracks, each delivered by different departments in the college – industrial automation (engineering technology), intelligent control (electrical and computer engineering), and smart mobility (computer science). All three tracks will have a common 10-credit core requirement.

In related news, the WSU department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences has expanded its free mental health intervention program to include all of Michigan’s first responders and their families through virtual offerings.

Warriors Strong Together provides free mental health intervention. It was launched in March for WSU faculty, staff, and students as well as physicians and staff of the WSU Physician Group. The service is now available to police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, and their immediate family members.

The service can be contacted by phone at (313) 577-1596, by email at, or by clicking here. The service is available from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days per week. All calls are confidential and free of charge.

“We have been deeply humbled and inspired by the heroic efforts of our first responders on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and all they have done to keep our community and neighborhoods safe,” says Dr. David Rosenberg, professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences. “It is an honor and privilege for our department to do whatever we can to help and offer the Wayne State Warriors Strong Together program.”

If a caller chooses to enter into further treatment, insurance is accepted, and co-pays are waived. If a caller’s insurance does not cover further service, he or she will not be billed.

The length of the sessions and assistance provided during calls and teleconferences will vary based on the need of the caller, from support to crisis intervention as necessary.

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