Program Offers Double Duty

July 18, 2017

New Engineering Physics Degree Launches at UMD.

When the fall semester at UMD begins, a new undergraduate program will get its start by offering students a bachelor of science degree in Engineering Physics.

The new program was officially approved by the U of M Board of Regents in June. Marc Seigar is the new associate dean for UMD’s Swenson College of Science & Engineering (SCSE) and the former head of the Physics Department. “This is going to be a unique program for Minnesota. It isn’t offered anywhere else in the state,” said Seigar.

The nearest university offering this degree is at UW Platteville. Seigar said they are also planning to seek Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) accreditation for the program, which would make it the 22nd ABET accredited Engineering Physics program in the country.

Professor Jay Austin is the current Department Head for Physics & Astronomy, and he said they aim to fulfill an industry need. “Engineering Physics programs produce graduates with a broader perspective on engineering,” said Austin. “They also develop a deep scientific understanding which means they are often capable of managing projects early on in their careers.”

To make sure the program offers what is needed in the workforce, representatives from local, regional, and national companies including Cirrus Aircraft, Minnesota Power, Seagate Technology Engineering, and Beton Consulting Engineers are serving on a new Engineering Physics Industrial Advisory Board.

Seigar explained that UMD can transfer current students into this new program starting this fall but that new incoming freshman will need to wait until the fall semester of 2018 to declare this as their major. “We expect our first graduating class in this new major to finish in May of 2020,” said Seigar. “It’s exciting to be able to offer this and give our students another opportunity to gain an edge in the workforce.”

Swenson College typically has nearly 3,300 undergraduates and more than 200 graduate students. It is home to ten academic departments, as well as the Large Lakes Observatory, the UMD Air Force ROTC program, and the Iron Range Engineering program. SCSE connects students with hands-on research opportunities through its collaboration with multiple research institutions and area businesses.

About the Swenson College of Science and Engineering