WSU answers demand for engineers, computer scientists

By Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering & Architecture

engineering-studentsPULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University will offer new engineering degrees in the fall to meet the high demand for engineers and computer scientists in the state.

New undergraduate degrees include the first construction engineering degree in the Pacific Northwest, a software engineering degree offered at WSU North Puget Sound at Everett and at Pullman, and an electrical engineering degree offered on the campus of Olympic College in Bremerton, Wash. A new online master’s degree in software engineering will also begin.

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The programs continue the state’s efforts to educate more engineers and computer scientists to meet industry needs. In 2011, a Washington Technology Alliance report found that while the state employs the highest percentage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workers per capita in the nation, it was near the bottom among the states in graduating students in STEM fields.

To meet the demand, WSU’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture has increased its undergraduate enrollment by 65 percent to more than 4,500 students in the past seven years. The college also started engineering programs at Olympic College and WSU North Puget Sound.

Land-grant mission to address community needs

The new degrees will promote significant enrollment growth, while offering them in Everett and Bremerton will remove the barriers to higher education often encountered by place-bound and non-traditional students.

“An important part of our land-grant mission has been to give our students hands-on, practical skills for the workplace to solve our state and nation’s most critical challenges,’’ said Candis Claiborn, dean of the Voiland College. “I am pleased that we are working with communities across the state to meet our mandate for more engineers and computer scientists and to better prepare our students for the 21st century workplace.’’

Integrated design-build approach in demand

WSU’s construction engineering program, which came about with overwhelming support from 150 construction and engineering contractors, will provide education in heavy infrastructure design, building design and construction technology.

Because of significant changes in technology, global markets and economics over the past 15 years, successful construction companies increasingly need both the engineering and managerial expertise that the degree will offer. The design-build method of doing business creates a need for construction engineers in addition to construction managers within the industry.

Affordable, accessible education

The new software and electrical engineering programs will allow students to complete their WSU degrees while taking classes near their homes or online. This addresses two major concerns for the state by providing more affordable and accessible higher education options for students and more engineers and computer scientists who are critically needed for the state’s economy.

The software engineering programs will prepare students for developing and maintaining large and complex software with advanced courses in software development, testing and validation, maintenance, security and management and integration – all specialties of high demand among the state’s computing and IT industries.

Bremerton’s electrical engineering program will train students in the design, research, testing, development and manufacturing of electronic systems and equipment, with specializations in general electrical or power engineering.

The Everett and Bremerton programs will include a combination of local and Pullman-based faculty with courses originating at the local and Pullman locations. Students will follow WSU’s semester system and pay WSU tuition.


Tina Hilding, WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture communications, 509-335-5095,