The Volgenau School of IT and Engineering at George Mason University was established in 1985. The Volgenau School was the first engineering school in the United States to offer a Ph.D. degree in information technology. Today, the School offers 7 Ph.D. degrees, 14 Masters degrees, and 7 B.SC. degrees in programs that cover the full range of IT-related disciplines. In addition to these programs, the Volgenau School has a new initiative in bioengineering and is planning to admit students to a new undergraduate degree in bioengineering commencing with the Fall, 2010 semester.
The School has developed strong partnerships with Northern Virginia IT companies in a number of important areas:
Faculty from the Volgenau School are engaged as consultants with local industry.
School research activities are closely linked to corporate research and development either through intellectual property or via a subcontracting agreement.
- Students (both graduate and undergraduate) work as interns at these companies and do so throughout the year.
- Corporate employees are appointed as Adjunct Faculty to teach classes in the School.
- Numerous corporations are Volgenau School Corporate Sponsors.
The new Engineering building has 12,000 sq. ft. of lease space which is currently being occupied by our Corporate partners.
These partnerships broaden and strengthen the School's academic program and ensure that classes are current and relevant. Over 50 senior-level executives serve on the School's advisory boards.
One of the hallmarks of the Volgenau School is our responsiveness to the rapidly changing IT field. Given the rapid rate of change of these technologies, School programs must adapt to address and workforce needs without losing the primary focus on quality. Critical issues include:
Budget Resources - increasing resources will be needed to maintain our position as leaders in IT instruction and research. Costs associated with these activities are higher than in other disciplines.
Attracting Capable Students – the number of high school graduates pursuing careers in science, engineering, and mathematics in this country has been declining for the past several years. Strong initiatives at the high school and middle school levels are needed to reverse this trend.
Infrastructure - computing systems must be updated frequently to enable students and faculty to have access to the latest software and hardware systems.
Research Support – funding for basic research is a necessary element of the School’s operation as it pays the salaries of graduate research assistants. Research findings that result from these activities often lead to potential products and services that further our collaboration with industry.
Diversity - IT crosses all cultural lines and geographical regions. Students who represent these areas must be attracted to the School and must be encouraged to stay.
Outreach- existing external corporate and educational partnerships must be expanded to broader geographical areas including international.
The IT/technology sector in Northern Virginia is the strongest economic force in the Virginia economy and further growth is expected in this sector during the next five years. To accommodate this growth, th Volgenau School plans to increase the number of students from its current level of approximately 4,200 to about 4,500 in 2010. The new initiative in bioengineering will ultimately include B.Sc., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees. The present faculty size of nine is expected to grow to 15 by 2014.
We also need to define (and fund) scholarship programs that can be used to attract the very best students from around the country as well as globally. In an effort to substantially reduce in class sizes, the School plans to hire a total of 20 highly-qualified full-time faculty members during the next five years at an estimated cost of about $2 million. In addition to improving the overall quality of its educational programs, the School will focus on increasing the number of out-of-state students, and on growing the reputation and size of its research activities.
In order to provide increased educational access to local working professionals as well as to students outside the Northern Virginia region, the School plans to develop online versions of many of its academic programs and courses. The primary focus for online education will be Master's degrees and other programs in high demand by working engineering and IT professionals.