UL Lafayette’s online programs create new career opportunities in systems engineering, computer science | Sponsored: University of Louisiana – Natural Self Esteem

Online degree programs have put continuing education within reach for those interested in advancing their careers without stepping down from their current positions or moving away from other priorities.

dr University of Louisiana Dean at Lafayette Graduate School Mary Farmer-Kaiser says creating that access through meaningful, relevant courses of study is a campus-wide priority.

“Industry throughout Louisiana, on the Gulf Coast and around the world is evolving and emerging every day,” said Farmer-Kaiser. “Our mission is to enable professionals to meet these challenges by using their expertise along with the critical and creative problem-solving developed through higher education.”

Among the university’s online degree programs, the Master of Science in Computer Science and the Master of Science in Systems Technology are unique offerings in Louisiana designed to meet these changes.

Informatics: bridge between business and technology

The university started its Master of Science in Computer Science in spring 2018 and now offers the course 100% online. Because the program can build on any bachelor’s degree, it has attracted students from a variety of backgrounds, including business, psychology, architecture, engineering, computer science, and more.

“The focus is on enterprise computing, i.e. large-scale computing, as well as on data science and data visualization,” said Dr. Michael Totaro, graduate coordinator for the program and associate professor in UL Lafayette’s School of Computing and Informatics. “It’s a very technical program. Most enrollers want to have a supervisory or leadership role in areas such as network administration, database management, business intelligence, business analysis, or data science.”

According to Totaro, the UL Lafayette program is unique because few universities in the country offer such a deep focus in computer science, which differs from fields like computer science and computer engineering in its greater focus on technology solutions and applications across multiple disciplines.

“Our graduates have been successful in getting into great positions and are all doing quite well,” Totaro said. “They work on big business projects, big data projects and IT project management. The knowledge they learned here has helped them advance their careers. It is really wonderful to see this success.”

The program requires 33 credit hours spread over 11 courses. Thesis and non-thesis tracks are available.

UL Lafayette executives are optimistic that the Master of Science in Informatics program will grow with the online-only offering. According to Totaro, students can complete assignments at their own pace as long as they meet all required deadlines and can work from anywhere. For example, a new student in the program works in finance in Manhattan.

“Most of our graduate students have jobs and families, but they want to incorporate that education into their lives,” Totaro said. “The response was very good and the numbers are already increasing.”

Systems engineering: Creation of design-life solutions in all industries

Meanwhile, UL Lafayette’s Master of Science in Systems Engineering has been available since Fall 2014 and has built a quality record of successful graduates. Most students are professionals, which makes the online program ideal, said Dr. Shelton Houston, director of UL Lafayette’s industrial technology division. Most students enroll part-time and have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, technology, science, or related disciplines.

According to Houston, the MS in Systems Engineering offers a 30-hour thesis or 33-hour project option with courses on manufacturing processes, lean manufacturing, project management, risk analysis, development research proposals and more with the opportunity for interdisciplinary electives.

“We also encourage students to take some business courses at the master’s level, especially if they want to get into the management side,” Houston said.

Houston added that the program’s graduates have gone through a variety of careers. Some now teach in colleges. One is an aerospace industrial engineer. Another now oversees major oil projects for his company.

A student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette works on an industrial technology project.

“Our graduates appear to be successful in a variety of fields,” Houston said. “We’ve had a few who have worked in the industry and have since made career transitions towards education. Many of our graduates also work in safety-related professions and have analyzed situations in their companies that have helped these companies improve their training and processes, thereby reducing liability.”

According to Houston, the online option has opened up the UL Lafayette program to students around the world who can work at their own pace as long as they meet assignment deadlines. Most students take two courses per semester. The course can usually be completed in three or four semesters.

“As long as they have good internet access, they can do coursework from almost anywhere,” Houston said. “We had students from all over the United States, Canada and South America. One of our graduates completed his studies while working on an oil platform in Thailand and South Vietnam. The program is flexible, which we think suits professionals better as they can get things done on their schedule.”

Visit the UL Lafayette online website for more information on both the MS in Computer Science and the MS in Systems Engineering.

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