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University of Arizona Launches Software Engineering Degree

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University of Arizona Launches Software Engineering Degree

The program positions graduates to take on rewarding positions in high demand by industry.

The 2021 U.S. News & World Report ranked “software developer” as the best technology job in the United States, and the second-best job across all categories. With a new bachelor’s degree in software engineering, the University of Arizona College of Engineering aims to create a pipeline of well-prepared students for these lucrative jobs.

“We listened carefully to our external stakeholders in developing this program,” said David W. Hahn, Craig M. Berge Dean of the College of Engineering.

The interdisciplinary degree debuts in fall 2021 in person and online. It is administered jointly by the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Systems and Industrial Engineering and focuses on software for large-scale products and systems.

“Our world is becoming more connected and automated every day, and software engineers are a critical part of building the necessary technological infrastructure,” Hahn said. “As the newest degree in the college, this exciting offering leverages the four-year Craig M. Berge Engineering Design program and expands the problem-solving opportunities for our students to meet industry needs. “

Some elements of computer science and electrical engineering are part of the software engineering program. However, software engineering students concentrate on the entirety of developing products and solving complex engineering problems, rather than solely on programming fundamentals and theoretical applications of software development.

A team led by Sharon ONeal, retired Raytheon software engineering director and mentor for the college’s Interdisciplinary Capstone Program, evaluated the specialized software skills in highest demand by employers – including Arizona employers such as Raytheon, USAA, Wells Fargo, General Dynamics and Honeywell – as they created the program. Accordingly, the curriculum includes courses in software assurance and project management, cost estimation, digital logic and computer organization. Standard engineering courses such as physics and programming, as well as at least one project per semester, are also integral academic components.

“Software engineering graduates will be better positioned to become leaders in areas including space, natural and fabricated environments, automation and connectivity, human and intelligent systems, data, computing and network sciences,” ONeal said. “They will also gain communication and management skills and become adept at working with both technical and non-technical customers.”

Students choose electives from across many of the college’s eight departments to design their own courses of study. They learn about concepts such as the software development lifecycle, software DevOps, Agile methodology, and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD). Most courses use open-source integrated development environments, operating systems and cloud-based infrastructures to best prepare students for careers after graduation.

“This new degree plays a critical role in meeting the escalating needs of both industry and society as we venture into the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” ONeal said.