SEPTEMBER 8, 2021 — It’s a new era for UTSA engineering, architecture, construction and planning students as they begin the fall 2021 semester in the new College of Engineering and Integrated Design (CEID). Officially launched on September 1, the college will better prepare students for the workforce while enabling transdisciplinary academic and research collaborations.
The new college combines the academic departments and programs that were under the College of Engineering and the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning. It is administratively organized into two schools: Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering and Construction Management; and a second that includes Architecture and Planning. The new college has three departments: Biomedical and Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. CEID is home to approximately 4,300 students, 120 faculty members and 40 staff members.
In addition to enabling deeper collaboration, the CEID academic approach supports UTSA’s 10-year strategic plan to advance classroom-to-career initiatives. Bringing together students from the different CEID schools will provide new educational and collaboration experiences needed to quickly succeed in today’s new workplace reality.
“Our goal is for students to learn through programs that are integrated across these disciplines at key steps in their development as a professional, such as working on interdisciplinary teams, so that they will emerge better prepared to meet the challenges their industries are currently facing,” said CEID Dean JoAnn Browning. “In this way, we not only set up our students for success but we can better serve San Antonio and our industries.”
CEID’s combined colleges concept is considered leading-edge in higher education. It’s the right fit for a university committed to creating “Bold Futures.”
“We're among the leaders with this format,” said David Akopian, associate dean of research excellence for CEID. “I embrace this decision. It’s exciting to be among the first—to do more than just follow established practices.”
Joshua Barron is an electrical engineering student on schedule to graduate in fall 2022. He recently completed an internship with a name-brand tire manufacturer. For his first project, he was assigned to a team of engineers with different skill sets. That experience was enlightening. It brought him more awareness on how to work with others from different backgrounds to get projects done.
“I think it makes perfect sense to have us work with students from architecture, planning and construction,” he said. “I would also like to work with students from beyond our college, like from marketing. More collaboration should be pushed forward because in industry, that's how it is.”
Mark Blizard is the interim director for the School of Architecture and Planning. He says initially students won’t see many changes to curriculum or projects, but the strategy will increase collaboration among students from all the CEID schools. With integrated design students located at the Downtown Campus and engineering students located on the Main Campus, Blizard sees an opportunity to begin connecting students through joint lectures, industry speakers and other engagement opportunities.
“You're trying to offer a common ground that allows relationships to develop. I think a lecture series could certainly do that,” Blizard said. “I think a shared project can do it. Architecture students could produce a certain portion, guided by structural engineering students. This brings people together and enhances experiences we can offer through this new integrated college.”
The impact of CEID reaches beyond student and faculty collaboration. Browning feels there’s excellent opportunity to benefit the community and society.
“Part of our vision is to solve grand challenges, where humanity intersects with the physical world. It's the humanity piece that we need to keep up front and focused,” she said.
Browning plans to evolve an existing UTSA engineering program called Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS). EPICS is an academic program in which teams of UTSA students partner with local not-for-profit community organizations to provide technology solutions. This is a long-term partnership, which allows for more significant projects that may take two or more semesters to complete.
Praxis is a proposed program for the new college that originated in the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning. Browning describes it as the intersection of practical needs and community needs.
“Through Praxis, an entity could come to UTSA and look for advice on design-build, on historical preservation or one of our other expertise areas and we provide assistance to them,” Browning said. “It positions us as community-facing, helping to serve others through our expertise. The new college gives us an opportunity to grow this program’s scope.”
Barron is excited about the CEID strategy. He believes it will offer students the collaboration and experiential learning opportunities for a seamless transition into his electrical engineering career.
“I really appreciate UTSA keeping things moving forward, instead of getting bogged down,” he said. “The fruits of their labor may not be seen for a couple of years, but once it is realized, people will look back and say this was such a smart move.”
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