New ENG Offerings in Data Analytics, Cybersecurity and Robotics

in ENG Spotlight-Research, NEWS, Spotlight Master's

Master’s students can now specialize in these fast-growing fields

By Janet A. Smith (ENG) and Amy Laskowski (BU Today)

 Amazon announced plans to deliver packages via drones; graduate students who specialize in ENG’s new robotics program could find themselves working for the commerce giant in the near future. Photo by Flickr contributor Arts Electronica Center

Amazon announced plans to deliver packages via drones; graduate students who specialize in ENG’s new robotics program could find themselves working for the commerce giant in the near future. Photo by Flickr contributor Arts Electronica Center

In an effort to train its graduate students in rapidly expanding fields, this fall the College of Engineering will begin offering three new master’s degree specializations in the fields of data analytics, cybersecurity, and robotics.

“The corporate sector has voiced frustration with the shortage of trained engineers in key sectors of the innovation economy,” says Kenneth Lutchen, dean of ENG. “By combining a master’s degree in a foundational engineering discipline with a specialization in a fast-growing, interdisciplinary field, students will be well positioned to meet this need and impact society. This unique combination should greatly enhance the power of their degrees in the marketplace.”

The specialization programs are open to all master’s degree candidates in ENG. Students who opt to add a specialization will select at least four of their eight required courses from a list specific to that field. Specializations will be noted with the degree title on students’ final transcripts.

Classes for the fall 2015 semester begin September 2, and master’s degree students who are interested in focusing on one of the three fields should contact the Graduate Programs Office for more information.

Two years ago, the Harvard Business Review noted that jobs in the field of data analytics are expected to continue to increase. Glassdoor.com reports that the average data scientist salary is currently $118,700. ENG’s new data analytics specialization will emphasize decisions, algorithms, and analytics grounded in engineering application areas. Students choosing to specialize in data analytics can expect to find jobs in finance, health care, urban systems, commerce, pharmaceuticals, and other engineering fields.

Recent, brazen cyber attacks on companies such as Target and Sony Pictures as well as the data breach thought to originate in China that compromised the records of 21.5 million Americans who had applied for government security clearances over the past 15 years highlight the growing importance of cybersecurity.

ENG’s cybersecurity specialization will teach students security-oriented theory and train them in practical cybersecurity applications including software engineering, embedded systems, and networking. It will also provide a context for cybersecurity threats and mitigation strategies ranging from protecting corporate and government systems, to home and building automation accessories and medical devices.

Global spending on robotics is predicted to increase to $67 billion by 2025 from just $15 billion in 2010. Today, robotics are used in everything from prosthetics and telemedicine to autonomous vehicles, feedback control systems, and brain-machine interface. The new ENG specialization will prepare master’s students for careers in research and development and deployment and operation of advanced individual or multi-coordinated robotic systems.

Tom Little, an ENG professor of electrical and computer engineering and systems engineering and associate dean of educational initiatives, says these new specializations are meant to be complementary to the numerous existing master’s degree programs. Come fall, someone getting a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, for instance, could specialize in cybersecurity, and learn how to prevent a car’s computer system from being hacked.

“These are all very exciting areas that are emerging,” Little says. “ENG is active in doing research, but also active in developing the next generation of scientists and engineers who can contribute to companies who want to build applications that have an impact.”