Setting yourself up for career advancement in the engineering industry includes maintaining a technical edge and knowing when to pursue graduate work. The University of Missouri College of Engineering is launching two online master’s degrees to help working professionals edge out their competition in this rapidly changing industry.
Both MS programs – biological engineering and industrial engineering – are fully online. The classes are developed and taught by the same faculty who teach on campus, the same faculty and researchers who are often recognized for their groundbreaking work.
“Our college is dedicated to solving the problems of today — and tomorrow — with our research,” said Elizabeth Loboa, dean of the MU College of Engineering. “In order to provide our students with the most innovative educational experience that sparks their own discoveries, we need to be at the forefront of the engineering field. I am excited to see what new engineering breakthroughs our distance students will uncover!”
A focus on STEM
The online master of science in biological engineering offers a unique opportunity for professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields to pursue graduate work in engineering. Many other institutions require their master’s students to have completed undergraduate work in engineering specifically. Acknowledging the skills acquired in other STEM subjects, this Mizzou program will admit students from any STEM background.
The biological engineering degree gives career switchers a path to new opportunities in bioengineering. There are approximately 21,300 available jobs for bioengineers nationally according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and it’s estimated the field will see a seven percent growth in employment opportunities between 2016 and 2026.
“In a STEM field, your skills are cutting edge for about five years,” said Heather Hunt, associate professor and online program coordinator. “Our students need to be lifelong learners in order to stay current, especially if they are looking to take their career in a new direction.”
Hunt and other faculty members who teach in the program are faculty in the Department of Biomedical, Biological & Chemical Engineering, which is a part of both the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Missouri. This department offers three undergraduate degrees and four graduate degrees; this interdisciplinary approach also is reflected in the curricular design of the master’s in biological engineering program. This allows students flexibility to pursue their career interests and needs.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The online industrial engineering master of science program is open to all engineering and management disciplines.
“As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a period of time when emerging technological breakthroughs are rapidly creating new challenges as well as opportunities, we are focused on providing an up-to-date education that is relevant and useful for the students’ future work and career,” said Bin Wu, online program director and professor in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering.
The industrial engineering master’s is a pathway to potential career advancement in a field that is projected to have seven percent employment growth through 2026.
“The program aims to provide the students with the necessary concepts and tools — such as those in smart industrial and service systems, analytical and simulation techniques, big data analysis and smart devices and energy and environmental management — that will help to put them on a faster career track in the new technological and business environment,” said Wu.
Having established two national-level centers of research and education in the department, “the faculty’s collective expertise provides our students with multidisciplinary skills to take full advantage of the opportunities related to the design, operation and management of the next generation of smart industrial, service and healthcare systems,” said Wu. “Engineers and managers of any discipline can benefit from learning more about industrial engineering concepts and tools in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Flexibility is key
For many engineering professionals, continuing their education while maintaining a full-time job, and other responsibilities, is difficult. With 100 percent online course work, these new programs are tailored to such professionals looking to get a career boost. By taking two classes each semester, students can complete their master’s in biological engineering or their master’s in industrial engineering in two years. Students are encouraged to try courses in these programs as non-degree-seeking post-baccalaureate students so they can see how online graduate study fits into their schedules.
“Advancements in technology and education have allowed our instructors to give distance students a true Mizzou experience from wherever they live,” said Kim Siegenthaler, Mizzou Online director.
Applications for both online engineering master’s programs are now being accepted. Classes begin in August.