The School of Engineering of Fairfield University expands programs


Image: man looking at radioThe quality of the class of full-time freshman engineering students entering Fairfield University this fall is but one sign of the ever expanding and successful program of growth the School of Engineering has experienced since BEI merged with Fairfield University just six years ago.

"During the last year, the School of Engineering has literally reinvented itself in response to challenging circumstances and galloping change in higher education," says Dr. Hadjimichael, dean of the School of Engineering. The changes have earned the school recognition as a resource for engineering education in Connecticut.

The School's agenda for growth and expansion received a strong boost from a recent $500,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation in support of several projects crucial to the development of the School. "This prestigious award affords the School of Engineering the means to develop new opportunities for engineering education," Dr. Hadjimichael notes. Among these opportunities are the School's initiating a program in Distance Learning and a large-scale installation of a Photovoltaic solar energy conversion array.

The Distance Learning project involves the education of off-campus students in remote locations. Dr. Hadjimichael explains, "A network for the School of Engineering has just become operational. This facility will accommodate, among other things, Web-based on-line delivery of courses." Mr. Chuck Paulsen from the Department of Mechanical Engineering has been appointed the coordinator of Distance Learning which will benefit working adults as well as traditional students who wish to pursue engineering degrees.

The Photovoltaic solar energy project will probably be the largest building-integrated solar array in the framework of a residential environment. It is a planned for 14.5 Kilowatts of generated energy and will serve as a laboratory for the design and implementation of efficient power controls. It will also help to promote the use of solar energy among homeowners and the building industry.

The School of Engineering has also initiated outreach projects addressing high school students. With a combined $50,000 grant from the Charles Edison fund and from the Dibner Fund, the School has undertaken the Edison Millennium Project addressing primarily pre-college students from the tri-state area. The project is a combination of a three-workshop series, a workbook and Web site, and a semi-permanent Edison exhibit in the lobby of McAuliffe Hall on the Fairfield campus. The main theme of the project is creativity and invention, as exemplified by the work of Thomas A. Edison in 19th century America.

Another undertaking of the School is its Earn and Learn program for high school seniors from the Bridgeport schools. This project represents a tripartite synergy among the School of Engineering, local industry and business, and Bridgeport schools, in which a senior at a Bridgeport high school is selected for the program, based on aptitude and a desire to study engineering. The student is given pre-training and placed in an entry-level job, while studying engineering on a part-time basis, with tuition reimbursement.

New programs and emerging opportunities have attracted and helped to retain quality full-time and part-time students. Within the past two years, the school added two master's of science degree programs in Software Engineering and the Management of Technology, with a total enrollment of some 240 graduate students.

"With the first full-fledged freshman class of full-time students in September, we are looking forward to providing a 'home' for them, an environment where they can flourish and bond early with their chosen discipline, with each other and with our faculty," says Dr. Hadjimichael.

Questions regarding the School of Engineering and its programs may be addressed to the Dean's Office: (203) 254-4147 or fax: (203) 254-4013.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 8, 2000

Vol. 33, No. 5