With spring semester in full swing on the San Jose State University campus, engineering classes are also underway for graduate students in off-campus locations in corporations throughout Silicon Valley. Corporations, including Applied Materials, Cisco Systems, IBM, KLA-Tencor Corp., Lam Research and Lockheed Martin, are partnering with the Davidson College of Engineering’s Office of Graduate and Extended Studies to offer advanced academic learning programs for their employees.
More than 300 students, divided into 17 cohorts, are currently enrolled in these accelerated programs, which allow them to work while earning an MS degree – typically within two years – in specific marketable areas. These include: optoelectronic systems, cloud computing and virtualization, analog and mixed signal, or embedded systems, and systems engineering. Engineering faculty team-teach the classes along with guest lecturers, often from within the corporations, who can provide the newest information on in-demand technologies.
“SJSU’s prime location in Silicon Valley affords us a strategic edge in partnering with corporations on a variety of off-campus programs, which furthers our university mission to educate the workforce, says Ahmed Hambaba, associate dean for graduate and extended studies. “We build long-term relationships with corporations by becoming an integral part of their management team. Working directly with senior level executives, we create customized and targeted programs that meet a company’s specific business needs. This comprehensive planning process can often take from six to eight months.”
Off-campus at Lockheed Martin
According to electrical engineering professor Nader Mir, CoE’s academic coordinator at Lockheed Martin, in Sunnyvale, 16 students are currently working on a master’s degree in optoelectronic systems. “The tailored program provides students with the latest skills in systems engineering and optics, which will enhance the development of optical sensors and systems to further Lockheed Martin’s role as one of the world’s largest defense contractors,” says Mir.
As academic coordinator, Mir’s responsibilities are far-reaching, touching every aspect of the program. He’s responsible for recruiting program instructors, evaluating classes, and reviewing course content and program objectives with company counterparts. Mir personally works with each student enrolled in the program as part of his role as master’s project coordinator.
Blake Hauf, Lockheed Martin’s coordinator of degree programs in Sunnyvale, has been on board since the company first started developing corporate programs with San Jose State in 2000. Since then, Lockheed Martin has sponsored five programs (up to 16 cohorts) on a variety of technologies, with the latest focusing on optoelectronics, and embedded systems.
Says Hauf, “Over the past 12 years, nearly 300 employees have graduated as a result of these programs. It has been a pleasure working with Ahmed Hambaba in what has been a very positive and successful partnership. SJSU has been responsive to our needs and flexible in developing course content. It’s beneficial for our employees to be exposed to outstanding SJSU Ph.D. instructors, as well as our own corporate executive lecturers who provide relevant, real-world course content that students can relate to, and apply immediately to their work environment.”
“It’s also convenient for our employees when their commute to class is just a short walk across the parking lot,” Hauf adds.
CoE’s off-campus programs include single and dual degree programs as well as corporate. Hambaba and his team continue to develop programs that address the industry’s need for employees highly-skilled in the latest technologies. For instance, the clean technology cohort will soon pave the way for new classes in solar cell device physics and solar module technologies, slated for this fall.