UMR develops Missouri’s first interdisciplinary engineering program

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On July 23, 2004

The University of Missouri-Rolla will soon offer a new bachelor of science degree program in interdisciplinary engineering to provide more flexibility to students interested in working in new and emerging fields. The degree will be the first of its kind in Missouri and UMR will become one of the few colleges and universities in the nation to offer such a program which will qualify for accreditation in engineering.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved UMR’s proposal for the degree program at the board’s July 23 meeting. The proposal now goes before the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education for final approval.

Using existing faculty and courses, the program will allow students to study in-depth subjects that rely on two or more areas of engineering or science, such as robotics or nuclear power generation and transmission. The program will prepare "engineering generalists" who are needed for many smaller companies, says Dr. Ron Fannin, professor and chair of basic engineering, where the program will be located.

"In many ways, specific tracks will be driven by student and industry demand," Fannin says. "The program will appeal to students who want to work in new areas of technology, such as entertainment engineering or micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). We believe the ability to establish a specialty track will better prepare engineers for cutting-edge work in emerging areas and thus assist start-up companies in the state."

The new degree program is perfect for high school students who may know what they want to study in college, but whose interest doesn’t fit into a traditional engineering discipline, says Dr. Robert Mitchell, dean of the School of Engineering. Examples could include everything from designing toys or stage props to forensics, he adds.

"UMR will be the perfect place for these students, since this program will allow us to create the combination of courses that is best for them while still maintaining an outstanding engineering education that will prepare them for the future no matter which way the future goes," Mitchell says. "This is an ideal way for our very creative faculty in the liberal arts to work with engineering faculty to create high-tech opportunities in music, art and performance."

For more information about the interdisciplinary engineering degree program, contact the UMR office of admissions at (573) 341-4164, or visit

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On July 23, 2004. Posted in News