AUBURN, Alabama, June 10 -- Auburn University's (AU) Samuel Ginn College of Engineering this fall will launch what college officials say will be the nation's first Bachelor of Wireless Engineering degree program.
The Alabama Commission on Higher Education has given final approval to the degree program, which officials say will provide students with the tools they need to be part of the wireless revolution.
"Auburn's implementation of the nation's first bachelor degree program in wireless engineering will establish the institution as a true leader in this rapidly expanding field," said interim Provost John Pritchett. "Samuel Ginn's gift of $25 million, which made this possible, will move Auburn engineering into a relatively small number of elite engineering programs."
Ginn, a 1959 graduate of Auburn in industrial management, is the former CEO of AirTouch Communications.
Larry Benefield, dean of the Ginn College of Engineering, described the new program as part of a larger wireless initiative.
"It's a technology that will grow far beyond its current use in cell phones, to include web access, data transfer, medical monitoring and applications that we haven't thought of yet," said Benefield. "Auburn will become a major player in all of these developments."
The new degree program is an interdisciplinary effort that involves faculty and programs in two departments -- Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science & Software Engineering.
Students can specialize in hardware, software or networks. Those interested in a career with wireless service providers and other telecommunications companies may choose the network specialization option within either department.
The program will give Alabama's youth an unparalleled opportunity to become involved in this rapidly growing technology, said Benefield.
The AU engineering dean said Ginn provided the vision as well as funding for AU to be a pioneer in education for wireless technology. He also credited members of the Wireless Engineering Technical Advisory Board, which includes top executives from such companies as Verizon Wireless, Nortel Networks, Ericsson, Nokia Mobile Phones, Hewlett-Packard Company and Cingular.
The program will be good for the wireless industry as well as for students, said Richard Jaeger, interim director of the Wireless Engineering Research and Education Center.
"We worked closely with the wireless industry to ensure that the degree program addressed the full spectrum of industry needs," said Jaeger. "Our hope is that we've created a program that will be exciting and challenging for the students, and produce graduates ready to meet the
demands of the workplace."