By Skylar Smith
Daily Titan Staff Writer
Early in the fall semester, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of Cal State Fullerton received an exciting letter, an accreditation for their newest program, computer engineering, from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
For the past several years, the Computer Science and Engineering Department have planned to make the program come to light. The dean of the college, Dr. Raman Unnikrishnan, was one of the many advocates of the program upon entering the university’s faculty.
“The program proposal had languished in committees for 25 years without arriving at any perceivable results. People talked and talked, and nothing happened. The proposal got a renewed life with a new committee and clear objective,â€ Unnikrishnan said about the state of the program before becoming dean. â€œIn the scheme of things, they did not understand how to put the program together.â€
Because of his previous experience with the evaluation process being an evaluator himself, Unnikrishnan was able to get the ball rolling from an outside perspective . â€œI think I had a bit of an advantage because I am an … Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers program evaluator,â€ Unnikrishnan said, â€œso at that time I had a fairly good understanding of what the program was.â€
The program received the maximum number of years (six) before the college needs to reapply, which is due to immense success. “Not only did our program receive accreditation, but the program did not have any deficiencies, weaknesses or concerns, code words to highlight problematic shortcomings discovered during the elaborate scrutiny from ABET,” Unnikrishnan said.
The accreditation team was coordinated by Susamma Barua, acting associate dean of the college and program coordinator of computer engineering. Some of the companies that helped to give their own input on the program were Boeing, Emulex Corporation, General Dynamics, Intel, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Raytheon Fullerton Engineering, ThalesRaytheonSystems, Technology Strategy Group, and Unisys Corporation. â€œThey reviewed what we wrote, and they provided feedback and input,â€ Barua said.
Barua was also heavily involved in getting the computer engineering program approved. â€œThey had very specific questions, and we had to convince the university that there is a need for this program, and the employers will have jobs waiting and are willing to hire the students,â€ Barua said.
According to Barua, 25 students decided to take the leap of faith on the program and four successfully graduated in fall 2008. The first four to complete the program were Nicu Ahmadi, Maza Eshak, Minh Trang and Hao Sheng Wu, all are currently working in the computer engineering industry.
Ahmadi is now working as an electrical engineer for one of the programs that helped with the accreditation process, Raytheon under the Hardware Group, as well as attempting to get a master’s in electrical engineering at CSUF.
â€œI feel that we had a good program, especially considering that it was brand new. Weâ€™ve had our shares of different faculty and professors, but overall I believe that it was a good program,â€ Ahmadi said.
â€œI was never worried that our program might not be accredited, but if it was to happen, it would have had a huge impact on my career,â€ Ahmadi said about the chance they were taking on the program. â€œBeing accredited was very important to me, and I am glad that as the first graduating class, I was able to contribute to that. One obvious benefit of being accredited is the accountability that it brings with it.â€
Compared to several of the other programs it is still very new, and although several of the kinks have been ironed out, there is always room for improvement, according to Ahmadi. â€œDoes it have room for improvement? Definitely. I believe that I worked really hard for my degree,â€ Ahmadi said. â€œWe lived up to the standards and had to perform very well in all subjects.â€