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2012-01-25 / Education

A&M-Kingsville online Industrial Engineering Program named fourth in the nation for student engagement and accreditation

By Adriana L. Garza Texas A&M-Kingsville

Just four years after its inception, the online Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville is gaining national recognition through the most recent rankings of online degree programs by U.S. News and World Report.

The online graduate degree program is ranked 4th in the nation for student engagement and accreditation and ranked 21st for student services and technology, according to the U.S. News and World Report Online Master of Engineering Degree rankings.

A&M-Kingsville was the only Texas university included in the student services and technology list and one of only two Texas schools on the student engagement and accreditation list. Southern Methodist University ranked 56th on the same list.

“This recognition means a lot to our industrial engineering master’s program,” said Dr. Kai Jin, associate professor and interim chair of the mechanical and industrial engineering department. “This puts the master’s program in industrial engineering on the national map among top schools in the nation and it also encourages us to continue to improve and grow the program.”

Rankings are based on data submitted to the magazine in fall 2011. According to the U.S. News and World Report methodology, the magazine contacted more than 250 engineering programs that were home to at least one master’s program accredited by ABET — the leading national engineering program accrediting body. Nearly 200 of the universities contacted responded. Of that 75 percent, 62 reported offering online degrees.

Jin said the program — which is one of the few like it in the state — has been particularly popular with students who have full-time jobs but hope to advance in their current job position.

“The majority of engineering graduates with bachelor’s degrees can find a good job, but many of them still want to pursue an advanced degree and at the same time keep their job,” Jin said. “The online program gives them the opportunity to take courses anytime and anywhere they want, while they can still work full-time. This is very important considering the current state of the economy.”

About one dozen students enrolled in the program last semester — including students from Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Houston and Florida.

The program is expected to include international students from Mexico and China in the next year.

Jin said the program’s strength and popularity is tied to the dedication and highly qualified faculty who teach the online courses.

“The professors who are currently involved have been working hard to get training for the online education, to develop online courses and to keep in close contact with students. All the professors are certified virtual instructors. Since most of the online students work full time, our faculty spend a lot of time during evenings and weekends to answer phone calls and emails to help students.”

Jin also notes the high quality of the program is connected to the high admission requirements.

“We keep all the admission requirements, degree requirements and class requirements the same as in the in-class program,” Jin said .

The online degree plan consists of 36 semester hours of courses. Students must be admitted to the university and register for courses just as they would for an on-campus degree program.

The popularity of the industrial engineering online graduate program has encouraged administrators and faculty to consider expanding the college’s online offerings. This spring the college will begin offering an Engineering Project Management Professional Certificate at the graduate level. The engineering project manager technically oversees and implements projects and systems changes through project coordination meetings and other means. The program will consist of nine credit hours.

For additional information about the online course offerings in industrial engineering, contact Dr. Hua Li, industrial engineering graduate coordinator, at (361) 593-4057 or email hua.li@tamuk.edu.

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