[caption id="attachment_204980" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The University of Delaware and the Delaware State University are teaming up on an accelerated path for engineering degrees. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
An innovative program to provide easier access to advanced education in engineering for a more-diverse group of students was instituted in Delaware this semester, one that combines the faculties, resources and students of the University of Delaware in Newark and Delaware State University in Dover. Called the accelerated joint bachelors and masters program (4+1), it offers a master’s degree in engineering in as little as five years and broadens an existing 4+1 program at UD.“Industry told us it needed a greater diversity of engineering students with graduate degrees, and our response was to build a pipeline with Delaware State,” said Dr. Levi T. Thompson, dean of the College of Engineering at UD. “The cooperative program began this semester, and we expect to have the full complement of 15 students from DSU enrolled here next semester.” The first DSU students taking part in the combined 4+1 program are expected to graduate during calendar year 2025.Educators at both schools had been pushing to make available the resources of UD Engineering College directly to undergraduate students at DSU, which offers a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics but does not provide graduate degrees in engineering and does not have its own engineering college.“The initial discussions took place several years ago when we decided it was time to build this relationship between the two of us,” Thompson said. He received his bachelor’s degree from UD before earning his doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of Michigan, where he was also on the faculty before returning to Delaware as dean in October, 2018. “We took the time to plan how the two cultures would mesh and how the program would operate – like practice before a game.”The basic outline of the 4+1 concept is that qualified students from either university can enter the program during the second semester of their junior year. In consultation with the student’s academic advisor, it can be determined if the student has the academic standing to enter the accelerated program and if the program offers the student the career path they are seeking.Once a student is granted provisional acceptance into the program, she or he will be eligible to take graduate level classes during their senior year. Because some undergraduate courses are waived for the accelerated program, the student will be eligible to be awarded both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only five years. Typically, if a student seeks the two degrees separately, it will take longer than five years to complete.A student’s undergraduate concentration can be in both engineering along allied fields of study. For example, UD currently offers a combined mechanical engineering and business administration program in which graduate interns can gain experience working in an industry setting, including with local employers such as AAA, ChristianaCare, the Siegfried Group, DuPont and Barclays.Separately, both universities currently offer the accelerated 4+1 programs in fields other than engineering.DSU students in the engineering 4+1 program will continue to work with advisors from that college as well as with the UD graduate faculty, Thompson said. They may choose to reside during the graduate part of their education near the Newark campus. “I love the mixing of cultures from the two universities,” Thompson said. “We both have great histories and great leaders in [DSU President] Tony Allen and [UD President] Dennis Assanis. We have a lot we can learn from each other.”Thompson also emphasizes that educators from both institutions are responding to the needs of local and area employers. “We’re trying to deliver talent to the state of Delaware and the region they tell us they need, such as materials engineering and combinations of mechanical engineering and computer sciences. There is a great demand, so we are preparing a pool of talented, diverse students to meet that demand.”
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