The computer sciences, engineering and architectural sciences departments have been merged into one school, according to WKU administrators.
The merger between the three departments was first discussed in the 1980’s has been put into effect this semester to allow students to have more connections in their industry.
In November 2016, Greg Arbuckle, associate dean of Engineering and Applied Sciences approached Cheryl Stevens, dean of Ogden College of Science and Engineering, to revamp the idea to merge the computer sciences, engineering and architectural sciences departments into one school. On July 1, the merger was finalized and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences was created.
In the three departments, there are 10 undergraduate programs and two graduate programs. The merger puts degrees in a similar industry, such as civil engineering and architectural sciences, together. Stevens said there are about 30 faculty members in the new school.
Stevens said the idea was to take departments with disciplinary overlap and put them in the same school to “build synergies, develop partnerships and create new programs.”
Arbuckle said the merger is an administrative structure change and presents no academic changes for students. He said the change will help WKU improve meeting career demands.
In the involved programs, Stevens said students are typically going directly into the workforce, which makes the connections important. In addition to merging the programs, there is now an industrial liason and internship coordinator to help students within the school prepare for interviews and entering the workforce.
“The merger creates an environment to develop needed skills to be workforce ready,” Stevens said.
By combining the departments, Arbuckle said representatives from the industry can go to one location for outreach.
In addition to connecting students with employers, Arbuckle said the merger will allow the school to be more efficient with lab space and equipment. Students will also have more opportunities to collaborate on projects and research.
While she wasn’t informed about the merger until the first day of classes, Jones said she was excited about the opportunity to have more lab space and equipment.
Arbuckle said the three departments would be working together “in the industry,” so giving them that opportunity now is more beneficial. He said students can understand differences between the different programs and how to work together.
Because of the opportunities for collaboration, Stevens said she hopes to diversify the students skillsets and encourage them to take classes in different departments.
As a result from the merger, Stevens said she also hopes to see more students working on real world projects with a team from different disciplines.
Paducah senior Michaela Jones said each individual department has a good relationship within their industries and will be able to share relationships and connections through the merger.
Jones is currently a manufacturing engineering technical major inside the architectural science department and has an internship as a mechanical engineer. In the internship, she said she has noticed how different positions now in the school can work together on projects.
Stevens said being able to experience more project-based learning is “such a good skill to have.”
Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]