UWL explores adding a computer engineering major


A student using one of the first Digital VT 100 terminals in the computer science department. Photo retrieved from uwlax.edu.

Shane Summers, Student Government Reporter

The University of WisconsinLa Crosse is in the planning stages of adding a computer engineering major to its offered programs.  

Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Sandra Grunwald described her role as helping “facilitate new programs going through the process,” explaining the major as appealing to prospective and returning students, containing “elements of mathematics, physics, computer science, along with specialized computer engineering courses.”  

Computer science professor Elliott Forbes is leading development of the program. He described the position of computer engineer as occupying the “boundary between hardware and software. 

The major would be the first undergraduate engineering program offered at UWL. Though it is possible to earn computer science degree at UWL, students currently wishing to pursue Computer Engineering must transfer to another school. 

The proposal is currently under review at UWL by various groups. According to Grunwald, the project would need to achieve departmentlevel approval, approval from the College of Science and Health, and approval by the Academic Planning Committee and Curriculum Committee before advancing to the full Faculty Senate for endorsement.  

Should this internal review be supportive, the proposal would then be presented to the Board of Regents for final authorization. The major would be funded by “Outcomes Based Funding,” dollars provided by the state to improve enrollment and student retention in the UW system.  

Grunwald hopes the program will begin enrolling students by the Fall 2020 semester, assuming the proposal is approved at every stage of the process. 

“With all of the computer science, physics, and engineering enthusiasts at this school, I imagine the addition of a computer engineering major would be incredibly popular,” said physics major Cullen Bauer-Trottier 

Forbes claims that a primary goal of the new computer engineering major would be to boost student enrollment by offering a program highly desired by prospective students. “It brings students in the door because there are a lot of people that want engineering said Forbes.  

Associate Dean of the College of Science and Health Gubbi Sudhakaran is also leading the new major development. Sudhakaran believes that the degree would allow new career opportunities at UWL. “To me it’s like adding another dimension to our degree offerings for students and I think we could bring in a lot more students,” Sudhakaran said.  

Sudhakaran also spoke of the new engineering programs being offered by other UW schools such as the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Such programs, he explained, reflect the need for higher education to change with a shifting career landscape. “If there is one campus that is ready to do this, I think it’s La Crosse. 

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